The Portland Planning Board will hold a public workshop on Jan. 10 about the master development plan for Portland Foreside, the massive project on Portland’s eastern waterfront.
The proposed development at 58 Fore St. is from Portland Foreside Development Company. The group has proposed a 716,000 sq. foot mixed-use complex, including more than 21,000 sq. feet of commercial space, nearly 700 parking spaces and 401 residential units. It is considered the largest private development in state history.
The Jan. 10 workshop concerns the development of two blocks of the project.
The proposal has been criticized by members of the planning board, like David Silk, who said in 2021 that the planning board had approved the proposal “at the behest of a developer who just blew through stop signs” when installing temporary structures without the city’s permission.
The development company has also been heavily criticized by neighboring Munjoy Hill residents, who have said at prior meetings that Casey Prentice, its managing partner, and his team moved too fast and made changes without city approval. Neighbors also claimed the city ignored the developers’ violations.
In November of 2021, a resident was quoted as saying that the developers’ activities, including erecting several temporary shed structures, “exhibits no resemblance” to the plan submitted to the city, calling the actions “unpermitted and illegal.”
Board members acknowledged in November 2021 that the project’s developers had committed several violations, but approved the buildout of the sprawling waterfront development anyway, allowing for the bar and restaurant service and giving Prentice’s company an additional three years to complete a marina development.
Portland Foreside, a $1 billion development in Portland’s East End, will create 160,000 square feet of new office space, 100,000 square feet of new ground-level retail space, a waterfront hotel and spa, residences, more than a thousand parking spaces and the Fore Points Marina with capacity for 200 boat slips. The 11-acre parcel has portions in the shoreland zone as well as Portland Company Historic District and Munjoy Hill Historic District, and developers aim for it to have restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, a public market and other services on ground levels, with office space and residences on upper floors.
The master development plan 58 Fore St. was approved in 2016, after Prentice’s company’s purchase of the site from Phineas Sprague. It was finally approved in 2020, when its total cost was estimated at $250 million.
The site is home to the Sun Life headquarters, an insurance company, and the acclaimed restaurant Twelve. This past summer, Portland Foreside won a permitting appeal with the city after being denied a building permit at 110 Thames St.
According to the city’s website, the developers have just over $964 in unpaid fees. They have completed just 36 percent of the project, and an additional 6 percent in progress. Fifty eight percent remains unstarted.
The workshop on Jan. 10 is for a level three site plan review.