Portland City Manager Jon Jennings wants to build a boardwalk connecting the Maine State Pier to the Ocean Gateway terminal.

The area would allow local artists, craftspeople and others small tourist-related businesses to set up small stands along a stretch of land near the waterfront that is teeming with cruise-ship passengers during the summer.

“It’s a way to professionalize what has been an ad hoc approach to the street vendors,” Jennings said.

Jennings said councilors have been “generally supportive of the idea,” which he plans to present tonight to the Economic Development Committee. The stretch has been used by street vendors since 2016 and lies between the Eastern Promenade Trail and the large paved area where cars have lined up to board ferries to Canada.

Jennings said the project is still in its conceptual stage and he could not provide a cost estimate, and that it could involve a partnership with a private group. He said the project would likely need council approval and wouldn’t move forward until 2020.

The project is being spearheaded by Kathy Alves, the city’s director of public buildings and waterfront who was not available for comment on Tuesday morning.

Renderings provided by the city show a wooden boardwalk along a pathway leading from the Maine State Pier to the Ocean Gateway Terminal — the hub of the city’s cruise-ship activity. Flower beds and benches are shown along the pathway and small vendor tables and some shipping containers line the waterside of the boardwalk.

The proposal is the latest for the bustling India Street neighborhood, which over the last decade has seen the most dramatic transformation as any other neighborhood during the city’s ongoing development boom.

Renderings provided by the city show a wooden boardwalk along a pathway leading from the Maine State Pier to the Ocean Gateway Terminal.

More than $150 million has been, or is being, invested in developing the India Street neighborhood, including the Wex corporate offices, AC Hotel, Shipyard/Vets First Choice complex and a recently approved office building and parking garage at 100 Fore Street, among others.

This summer, the city is planning to extend Thames Street to the old Portland Co. site and is expected to open up another city-owned parking lot for potential redevelopment.

The proposed boardwalk would allow local artists, craftspeople and other small tourist-related businesses to set up small stands along a stretch of land near the Portland waterfront.

The city is also considering renovating the Portland Ocean Terminal building at the Maine State Pier into a market place. But those plans were put on-hold after the Cat ferry announced plans to relocate to Bar Harbor. On the east side of the Ocean Gateway terminal, Jennings has city staff working on a proposal to convert a waterfront parking lot, known as the Amethyst Lot, into a public park that would include boat berthing.

While construction of Thames Street takes place this year, Jennings said the city will open up the Ocean Gateway vehicle staging lot for paid hourly parking to make up for spaces being lost to construction. He stressed that the parking will be temporary.

“What we don’t want to do is have anyone think that’s going to be a permanent solution for parking on the waterfront,” he said. “It’s not the highest and best use, but it does give the council time to figure out what they want to do with that area and gives us a revenue sources and additional parking.”

Jennings said city staff is only looking for initial feedback about the proposed boardwalk from the Economic Development Committee.

Randy Billings can be reached at 791-6346 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings

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