A privately owned parking garage near Portland’s waterfront is restoring access for 20 island residents who were told last week that they would have to give up their spaces, Portland city officials said.

The residents were given only a few days notice last Thursday that they would lose their parking at the Ocean Gateway Garage, prompting backlash from the affected residents and city officials, whom the garage manager, Unified Parking Partners, partially blamed for the evictions.

Unified Parking Partners says it did not target island residents, but the news of their eviction from the Ocean Gateway Garage rekindled fear that their needs are taking a back seat to development along the waterfront. Press Herald photo by Ben McCanna

Mainland parking for island residents is a perennial concern, because islanders need their vehicles to commute from the ferry terminal to work, school or appointments.

The rapid redevelopment of the eastern waterfront and India Street neighborhood near the terminal have intensified those concerns, as demand for parking increases. Islander say mainland parking is vital to the sustainability of island communities.

City Hall Communications Director Jessica Grondin said officials from the city, including City Manager Jon Jennings, met with Unified Parking on Tuesday. The city was told that the 20 people who had received termination notices were being invited back to the garage.

Grondin could not say whether Unified fully restored monthly parking privileges, or if residents were being invited back temporarily. It also was not clear if other islanders would be allowed to stay.

“We were obviously very concerned with the displacement of islanders from their longtime parking spaces, especially with the lack of advance notice,” Grondin said Friday. “We understand the importance that parking plays with living on the islands in Casco Bay. We were glad to see they were invited back and we continue to explore what options exist under previous agreements. The city continues to work to address issues related to availability of parking in the downtown as well as offering other transportation options.”

Asher Chappell, a managing partner at Unified, did not respond to an email or text message seeking an interview.

Unified Parking originally blamed delays in the city’s permitting process and existing leases for the evictions, but it has not provided any additional information. Jennings said then that the city had nothing to do with the evictions and called the claim “cowardly.”

Grondin said the city is still reviewing whether an agreement with the previous garage owner that required a certain number of spaces be made available to island residents is still in force. For a time, 150 spaces were reserved for island residents, but no more than 35 ever leased the spaces at any one time, Grondin said in 2017.

Ed Rea is a Long Island resident who was among the 20 people notified last week that they were losing their parking. Faced with a deadline of Sunday to be out, Rea said, he leased a spot at a parking garaged managed by Unified on Cumberland Avenue. He had not been informed that those evicted were being invited back.

Rea reached out to Unified after speaking to a reporter Friday afternoon and was told he would soon be contacted and invited back to Ocean Gateway. When they did call a few minutes later, Rea said, the company could not say whether he was being invited back permanently or temporarily.

Rea said he would take his chances, but was skeptical the arrangement would last.

“Given the way they have handled things in the recent past, one isn’t too sanguine about how the future will play out,” he said.

The Ocean Gateway Garage is located on Fore Street in an area that has seen some of the most intense redevelopment activity in the city. Payment processing firm Wex opened its corporate headquarters in early March and expected to have about 400 employees working there by the end of the month. Other office buildings and residential buildings have been popping up throughout the neighborhood, increasing competition for parking.

According to a 2017 Planning Board report associated with the Wex development, the Ocean Gateway Garage has 720 spaces, but some of those are “double-filled,” because the pass holders do not always occupy their spaces. At the time, the garage had 831 spaces either under lease or with leases pending, a figure that did not include Wex.

At the time, 366 of those spaces had active leases, including 144 overnight spaces for the Residence Inn, which could use them from 4 p.m. to 9 a.m.

The report indicated that another 465 spaces had leases pending or were scheduled to be leased in the future, including an additional 100 overnight spaces for the AC Hotel. That figure did not include spaces expected to be leased to Wex, though that project was required to have 258 spaces.

“Ocean Gateway operates the parking garage daily knowing that a large percentage of the monthly parking spaces will not be occupied,” the report said. “These empty spaces are filled with other monthly users or transient parkers, a practice utilized at most major parking facilities, which significantly increases the overall daily capacity of the parking garage.”

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

[email protected]

Twitter: randybillings

Related Headlines


Comments are not available on this story.