A pedestrian passes the Time and Temperature Building on Congress Street in downtown Portland in July. Plans to renovate the building are once again before city officials, the latest in a long line of development plans for the historic office building. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The Time and Temperature Building is once again switching hands. A new development company has created yet another set of plans for a hotel, restaurant, retail space and residential units in the landmark building.

GreenMars Real Estate, a Maine-based real estate development company, has a contract to purchase the famous 14-story office tower at 477 Congress St. in downtown Portland from TT Maine Venture LLC.

Multiple development companies have envisioned breathing new life into the Time and Temperature Building over the last 20 years. But none of those projects has panned out. However, GreenMars founders Nate Green and Chris Marshall believe they will get this project to the finish line.

“What separates this approach from others is it supports the financial health of the project and, the most important thing, (it) celebrates and gives the building a strong, viable future,” Green said. “Everybody in Portland wants to see this building exist and grow in the future.”

GreenMars submitted plans to the Portland Planning Board in late September that propose making the Time and Temperature Building home to a hotel, restaurant, residential housing, a fitness center, co-working space and retail center. Green and Marshall also want to create a rooftop observation deck that would offer a bird’s-eye view of Portland. Most importantly, it would not only keep the famous Time and Temperature sign in the same place with the same aesthetic, but it would also create an up-close photo opportunity for fans.

In terms of housing, Green and Marshall want to build 136 hotel units and 140 “long-term residential micro unit apartments” – 101 studio, 33 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom apartments.


Thirty-five of those units would go to “workforce housing,” per the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance that requires any new housing development to save 25% of its units for affordable housing with maximum rents based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s area median income.

Green and Marshall’s vision is not completely different than the one TT Maine Venture owners Chris Rhoades and Andrew Preston presented in 2018. But Green and Marshall see their plans for residential housing as the distinction. TT Maine Venture’s most recent plan was focused on hotel, restaurant and retail space. Green and Marshall, who both live in Portland, emphasized that it was important to them to create more housing in Portland’s market.

“It’s all taking it back to our mission, which is increasing the supply of housing,” Green said. “We’re looking at this iconic building and trying to add that supply of housing to ease the crisis in Portland.”

The Time and Temperature Building, a defining feature of Portland’s skyline, has a storied, 99-year history. The tower, at a point one of the tallest buildings in Maine, first opened in 1924. It had ornate architecture, upscale shops, a glassed-in mezzanine, and balconies illuminated by a massive skylight. The building has been home to a bank, Maine’s first arcade, the state’s prototype for a modern shopping mall, and, most recently, an office building.

The Time and Temperature Building sign flashes the message, “wear mask,” during the pandemic in the summer of 2020. The most recent plan would keep the famous sign in the same place with the same aesthetic. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

It’s also well-known and well-loved for its 9-foot-high, nearly 60-year-old digital sign that can be spotted from miles away. The sign displays the time, temperature, city information, fundraising initiatives and the “CALL JOE” advertisement for the law offices of Joe Bornstein, the late personal injury lawyer whose ads made him a household name in the state.

But there has been a streak of neglect and failed attempts to revive the struggling building in the last 20 years. A Washington, D.C., real estate developer proposed to restore the building and its historically prominent features in 2003. That never panned out. Under the following owner, the building experienced years of neglect, code and safety violations, and a mass exodus of tenants until it went into foreclosure in 2016.


Rhoades and Preston, as TT Maine Venture, purchased the building in a 2018 auction for $9.3 million. They vowed to bring the Time and Temperature Building “back to its glory days” with a luxury hotel, rooftop bar, restaurant and retail stores that would be up and running by the end of 2022.

But the project has stalled and construction hasn’t started amid rising costs of materials, labor shortages and issues with financing. In July, Preston and Rhoades said they were reconsidering their luxury hotel plans.


Marshall said that in the spring of 2023, he and Green learned from a real estate colleague that the building might again be up for sale. Rhoades confirmed that the building is under contract, but would not explain why TT Maine Venture chose to sell the building.

Marshall and Green founded GreenMars Real Estate in 2011 and have overseen other housing development projects, including an ongoing project to create housing in Nasson College’s vacant dormitories. The duo were childhood best friends, growing up together in York with a reverence for Portland’s famed tower.

“This building is super iconic. When the opportunity came up, Chris and I put our heads together,” Green said.


In an ideal world, Marshall hopes that they get approval from the city’s planning board and historic preservation committee by early 2024, break ground by the end of 2024 (in time for the building’s 100th anniversary) and have the whole tower running by 2026.

Despite the Time and Temperatures’ history of challenges, Marshall and Green are certain that they can get the job done.

“We’ve spent a number of months and many hours of our lives coming up with a viable plan that can make this work,” Marshall said, adding that all of the pieces of the financial puzzle will create “so many different income streams” to support the building.

But there is still some uncertainty – whether “CALL JOE” will continue illuminating Portland’s sky.

“The Time and Temperature sign will remain. But what will be on it? We don’t know,” Green said.

Marshall said it’s all dependent on the interest levels of participating parties, though he and Green plan to have conversations with the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein’s philanthropic department.

“We have not had discussions yet, so I don’t want to comment further on that,” Marshall added.

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