Custom House Wharf on the Portland waterfront has a new buyer under contract after more than 200 years of family ownership.

Kenneth McGowan, who said his family’s company has owned the wharf since it was built – believed to be prior to 1807 – said the property has been listed for sale for four years. McGowan said the buyer doesn’t want to be identified until the closing, which has been tentatively set for around the first of the year.

The wharf was listed for $11 million, but McGowan declined to say what it’s selling for.

According to the listing on the New England Commercial Property Exchange, there’s nearly 1.5 acres of waterfront property on the site, more than 100,000 square feet of rentable space, 3,700 feet of dock space and the potential to develop the parking lot at 90 Commercial St.

Businesses on site include Harbor Fish Market, Boone’s Family Restaurant, The Porthole, Gilbert’s Chowder House, Sea Bags, Custom House Seafood and Coastal Bait. There’s also dock space for lobster boats and for the Casablanca, a charter boat.

McGowan said the family made the decision to sell because “it was just time.”

Harbor Fish Market, a prominent business on Custom House Wharf in Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

“I’m the end of the family line pretty much and my kids aren’t interested,” he said. “You reach the point where it’s time for another generation to take over.”

McGowan declined to say if the buyer has indicated whether changes will be made at the wharf, but said “there’s not much they can do different.”

Custom House Wharf is one of two major pieces of the waterfront that have been on the market recently. Earlier this year, the Poole family put Union Wharf up for sale.

The listing for that property did not contain an asking price.

Union Wharf was built in 1793 and is the oldest wharf in the city. The Poole family became involved in its ownership and operation in 1858.

Most of Union Wharf is occupied by fishermen, seafood and bait dealers and an oil-spill response company. Property closer to Commercial Street is occupied by Sapporo Restaurant and a catering company. There is also commercial office space on the property, occupied by financial firms, a real estate broker, architects and others.

Correction: This story was updated at 6:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, to reflect that the property has not yet been sold.


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