The developer planning to turn a former industrial site on Portland’s eastern waterfront into housing, offices, markets and restaurants also intends to create a “world class” marina that would ease a shortage of berthing space and attract bigger yachts to the city’s shore.

James Brady, a principal with the development company CPB2, said the marina will be among the initial pieces of the project to be developed at 58 Fore St., site of the former Portland Co. complex. The $10 million project would roughly double the size of the existing marina at the site and add amenities such as restrooms, showers and laundry facilities, as well as parking.

“We’re looking to greatly expand and upgrade the existing marina into a modern-day marina complex,” Brady said. “It’s an amazing location.”

The plan is emerging as marinas in and around Portland Harbor are reporting high demand for boat slips and related services, thanks to a combination of low gas prices, a stronger economy and Portland’s growing reputation as a tourist destination.

“It has been very busy,” said Dan Entwistle, dock master at South Port Marina in South Portland. “This is one of the busiest years we have had in nine or 10 years.”

Brady said CPB2 intends to file new details and plans with the city by early fall that will set the overall vision for the 10-acre waterfront parcel, as well as lay out new roads and development blocks at the former Portland Co. site. The filing will be the first step in a long planning process for a project that could take a decade or more to develop.


The project has been the subject of debate for nearly two years, and nearly all of the discussion has focused on the land-based pieces of the project.

The City Council granted a zone change last year to allow for more uses and taller buildings, prompting a citywide scenic protection referendum that was resoundingly defeated. There also was considerable debate about which of the existing buildings should be preserved.


Founded in 1846, the Portland Co. complex was built to connect Portland to Montreal by rail and was the first locomotive factory in the U.S. that brought all of the necessary shops and foundry together on one site. It remained in operation for 137 years and was deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.

The Master Development Plan that Brady said would be filed in the coming months would commit the developer to a certain mix of uses for up to 10 years. Other large development projects to go through the relatively new planning process include the “midtown” development in West Bayside and the mixed-use project on Thompson’s Point.

Details of the Portland Co. project are still being worked out. However, Brady said it will likely include a mixture of owner-occupied and rental housing, retail space, offices, restaurants and markets. Many of the historic brick buildings on the site will be restored, while others in disrepair will be removed.


The development team also will be seeking approval of subdivisions that would include new roads around and throughout the site. Brady said that plan will essentially dice the 10-acre site into blocks. After that, the team will be ready to begin raising money for individual development projects, each of which will undergo site plan review and approval by the Planning Board, he said.

“We remain optimistic that the continued draw of people to the Portland area, and peninsula specifically, will make this site and development attractive to tenants, buyers and financing sources going forward,” Brady said. “While this is a large-scale development, no one envisions this project happening all in one phase, but more in a scaled-phase development fashion, responding to the market demands of the time.”

For the marina project, Brady said the development team has leased nearly 13 acres of state-owned submerged land that spans 1,000 feet along the shore and extends 575 feet from the waterline.

The site currently has a 69-slip marina operated by Portland Yacht Services, which owner Phineas Sprague said is basically full. He commended Brady for developing a plan that would attract larger, more luxurious vessels to the Portland waterfront.

“The next phase of growth is going to be a substantially higher-quality marina,” said Sprague, who plans to manage the new marina. “It’s one of those things that ‘if you build it, they will come,’ especially if you do a good job and provide excellent service.”

Brady said he is looking to install wave attenuators, which are a type of breakwater providing shelter from waves caused by passing vessels and strong winds. Some attenuators look like lane lines in competitive swimming, while others look like plastic walls. Brady said he is looking into a system of docks that would help calm the waters for the docked yachts.



The increased demand for berthing space and the new marina plan reflect Portland’s growing status as a marine destination. Portland Harbor – along with Boothbay Harbor and Mount Desert Island – was featured in the summer edition of Marina Life magazine, which bills itself as the leading source of marina information for the U.S., Canada, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Central America.

At DiMillo’s Marina, located in the heart of Portland’s Central Waterfront zone, seasonal boat slips are booked out for at least two seasons, said manager Amanda St. Peter, who noted that yacht sales also are strong. Meanwhile, boat visitors who would have stopped in Portland only for fuel and supplies are now choosing to stay for a week or two, she said.

“Requests for slips far outnumber the people who are departing,” St. Peter said. “The larger vessels are coming in for longer periods of time. They’re making Portland a destination on their trip.”

DiMillo’s has 130 boat slips and can accommodate boats up to 250 feet long, St. Peter said. All of those slips are full. Seasonal rates begin at $130 a foot, while nightly rates range from $3 to $5 a foot per night.

At South Port Marina, about 90 percent of the 170 slips are full. Entwistle, the dock master, said he is selling slips daily at a rate of $82 a foot to $115 a foot.

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