A company behind plans to reshape part of downtown Portland has submitted its first construction proposal – a six-story parking garage with space for stores, apartments and offices next to existing high-rise office buildings near the Old Port.

North River IV filed a proposal late last month to convert a city block-sized parking lot bounded by Spring, Fore, Cotton and Cross streets. The lot is adjacent to One and Two Portland Square, office buildings that house financial companies and law firms.

The Portland Planning and Urban Development Department said the parking structure would have 1,000 spaces on seven levels, plus 24 housing units and about 27,700 square feet of office space fronting Fore Street. The plan includes almost 5,600 feet of ground-floor retail space.

The garage would provide parking for a project North River IV plans for the area, including shopping, housing, offices and a hotel. A 10-year master plan shows that a second nearby parking lot – bounded by Commercial, Fore, Cross and Center streets – would be developed as part of the long-term vision for the area.

“This project is viewed as a critical phase of the Portland Square Master Development plan currently undergoing review by the city,” Patrick Carroll, the owner of Carroll Associates, a land planning and site development company, said in a letter to city planners.

Two four-story office towers envisioned in the long-term plan are not included in the current site plan but could be built above the parking garage. The parking garage is “designed to easily accommodate them in the future,” Carroll said in the letter.



The plan is the latest project to come before city planners, who have been awash in building requests. This summer, the city entertained plans from developers to build 20 duplexes on 3 acres of woods near University Park; a rooming house for homeless women and affordable housing units on State Street in the West End; new condos on Munjoy Hill; and a new hotel on Commercial Street, adding to the 10 hotels already operating in downtown Portland between Cumberland Street, the waterfront, High Street and Hancock Street.

A new headquarters for financial technology firm Wex was built and opened this year on the peninsula; another office building for animal health tech company Covetrus and an adjacent hotel/brewery are underway in the East End; and a plan to build a new office complex for insurer SunLife on the site of the former Portland Co. complex was unveiled two weeks ago.

Redeveloping the North River IV parcel gives a chance to bridge the nearby commercial and residential areas and “‘fill in a significant hole in the urban fabric, and enhance and extend the pedestrian environment present in the Old Port and the Commercial Street corridor,” Carroll said in his letter.


Carroll was unavailable for an interview Tuesday and did not provide answers to emailed questions including why the site plan was submitted before the master plan was approved and whether there is a benefit to building a parking garage first.


North River IV is an affiliate of Waterfront Maine. A representative of Waterfront Maine did not respond to an interview request Tuesday. The company bought the two Portland Square office buildings and parking for $66 million in 2015.

It is odd for a developer to submit a construction plan before getting approval for the overall master plan, but nothing prohibits that sequence, said Christine Grimando, acting planning and urban development director.

“It is a bit unusual, but as long as the pieces come together in the end, it works,” she said.

The proposal includes plans to reconfigure parking on Spring Street to expand the sidewalk and add more pedestrian access along Cotton Street and through an expanded public plaza between the proposed six-story garage and the Portland Square offices. The Spring Street side of the building would include seating, planters and green panels or artist-designed metal panels to obscure the structured parking, Carroll said in his letter to the city.

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