This rendering shows the proposed development that would include 300 condominiums, a 150-room hotel and shops at 385 Congress St., the block just east of City Hall. Rendering courtesy of CBT Architecture

A Portland firm is proposing a dramatic redevelopment on a Congress Street block currently used primarily for parking.

The block, located just east of City Hall, is proposed as the site of about 300 condominiums, a 150-room hotel, shops and parking. Joe Dasco, operating partner of the project for Reger Dasco Properties of Portland, said it will be named Herald Square, a nod to its former incarnation as the site of the Portland Press Herald’s printing plant.

Dasco cautioned that major elements of the development are fluid and construction of the first phase won’t start until next year, assuming the project is approved by the Portland Planning Board. He estimated the project would cost $200 million to $300 million to build. The first two phases would focus on the Congress Street side of the property, he said, with construction of one building with 110 condominiums, another housing a 150-room hotel and a pocket park between the two roughly 12-story structures.

The hotel would be operated by The Fathom Companies, which operates the Press Hotel across Congress Street from the proposed development, according to documents filed with the city.

The Congress Street side of the roughly 12-story development would be built first and include a hotel and 110 condos likely priced from $400,000 to $3 million. Construction of the first phase could begin next year if the project is approved by the Portland Planning Board. Rendering courtesy of CBT Architecture

The third and fourth phases would involve condominium buildings along Cumberland Avenue with about 190 units. The buildings also would have retail space on the first floors and parking underneath the occupied parts of the structures.

Dasco said prices for the condos are not yet set, but he suggested they are likely to be comparable to the firm’s Hobson’s Landing development on Commercial Street, where units are priced from around $400,000 to $3 million.


Dasco said the firm is working on how to comply with Portland’s inclusionary zoning rules, which require that a quarter of new units either be affordably priced for renters or buyers making about 80 percent of the region’s median income, or the developers could pay about $150,000 per unit into a city housing fund.


Dasco said he hasn’t decided which route to take.

“We’re really going to have to sharpen our pencils and see what we can do to make this work,” he said.

Reger Dasco has owned the property for about five years and has mainly used it for parking, with many of the spaces used by guests at the Press Hotel, which is located across Congress Street from the site of the project.

The Press Hotel, with about 110 rooms, was developed after the newspaper moved its offices to Monument Square and then to South Portland. The paper moved its printing operations to South Portland in the 1980s and used the Portland building primarily for storage since then.


Dasco said only a few developers have approached the firm about the property since it was purchased five years ago. One proposal was for a hotel, he said, but that wasn’t viable once the pandemic hit and hotels struggled. The company tried to find other businesses to lease the old press building, but that was unsuccessful, he said, and the primary use of the property was as a parking lot.

The market for hotels has since improved and there’s a need for more rooms in Portland, said Matthew Lewis, president and chief executive officer of Hospitality Maine, the organization that represents the industry in the state.

A local development firm is proposing condos, a hotel and shops for a downtown Portland lot used primarily for parking. The development at 385 Congress St. will be known as Herald Square – a nod to its former use as the home of the Portland Press Herald printing plant. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“We would certainly support more hotel inventory,” Lewis said. “While Portland might see slower bookings in winter and later in the year, overall we would expect a new hotel to be very successful.”

Kevin Kraft, deputy director of the city’s Planning and Urban Development Department, said the staff has started reviewing Reger Dasco’s application and he expects that an initial planning board workshop on the project will be held later this spring. The firm will have to get approval for the site’s overall master plan and then individual approval for each phase of the project.

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