The Portland City Council is expected to vote Monday on a developer’s request to increase the maximum allowable building height for a proposed parking garage at 100 Fore St. at the base of Munjoy Hill, which several local residents and workers strongly oppose.

If granted, the rezoning request would increase the property’s maximum allowable building height from 45 feet to 55 feet and allow the height to be measured from the property’s average grade rather than the floodplain at the low end of its elevation.

The proposal, which received a 5-0 recommendation from the Planning Board with member Austin Smith absent and member Lisa Whited recusing herself, has raised resident concerns about scenic views, traffic congestion, pollution and negative effects on the nearby waterfront’s fishing industry. More than a dozen individuals and groups have urged the city not to approve the height increase.

The developer, 100 Fore Street LLC, is proposing to build a mixed-use project that would include a parking garage with roughly 600 spaces surrounded by retail and office space. The site’s current uses include surface parking and a single-story warehouse building occupied by Hamilton Marine, Xpress Copy and other businesses.

Incorporation documents for 100 Fore Street LLC were filed with the Maine Secretary of State’s Office in December by its registered agent, Bernstein Shur attorney Hawley Strait. The documents do not specify the company’s principal shareholders. A quitclaim deed for the property lists the grantor as George Cacoulidis, a New York-based developer with several other holdings in the Portland area. He is the son of John Cacoulidis, the developer of Hope Island in Casco Bay who died in July at age 85.

The proposed development fronts Fore Street and sits perpendicular to Mountfort Street, bounded to the east by the Portland Co. site; to the north by the residences of Munjoy South and portions of the Shipyard Brewery and Marriot Residence Inn properties; to the south by offices and surface parking followed by the Eastern Promenade Trail and Ocean Gateway; and to the west by the office, hotel, retail and residential properties of the India Street neighborhood.


There is a steep grade at the northern border of the site along Fore Street that consists of a banked slope ranging from 12 feet to 15 feet in height above the site’s existing parking lot.

In its recommendation, the Planning Board noted that the project’s proposed height limit falls within the range previously recommended for the area. It said the proposal also supports city policy goals for the eastern waterfront, which include the elimination of surface parking, provision of parking with mixed-use structures, promotion of active street frontages and encouraging positive economic development.

However, the proposal has generated written complaints from at least 15 individuals and groups, including a large group of Portland fishermen and merchants calling themselves the Portland Working Waterfront Group.

“First and foremost, there should be no consideration of any zoning amendments in the Commercial Street area without the applicant first submitting a peer-reviewed traffic study addressing the additional impact on Commercial Street from the increased development made possible by the amendment,” the group said in a letter submitted to the city. “As the city’s recent West Commercial Street Multi-Model Corridor Study and other recent studies report, the present traffic on Commercial Street is already having a significant and negative impact on the fishermen, fisheries and marine related businesses that are dependent on the Commercial Street docks and wharves.”

The letter notes that while parking garages, condominiums, hotels and retail outlets can locate anywhere on the peninsula, “fisheries and other marine businesses that dominate the waterside of Commercial Street have no alternative locations within which to operate.”

Nearby residents also expressed concern – and in some cases outright panic – over the proposed project’s likely impact on ocean views, traffic congestion and air pollution.


“I am lumping these two issues I’d like to protest together because they make me want to scream,” wrote North Street resident Debby Murray. “WHERE ARE WE PUTTING ALL THE CARS? What’s the traffic plan? HELP! No one lives or works in these glass monstrosities down by the Wex (Inc. headquarters) project and the driving is already horrendous. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THEY ALL LEAVE FOR WORK?”

Other proposals to increase maximum height restrictions in the area have generated complaints from residents, including one request from the developer of nearby 58 Fore St., home of the former Portland Co. railroad foundry.

The City Council is scheduled to accept public comment Monday on the 100 Fore St. rezoning request at its regular 5:30 p.m. meeting at Portland City Hall prior to voting on the matter.


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