Herald Square, 385 Congress St., Portland rendering
A rendering of the nearly $300 million Herald Square project proposed for 385 Congress St. in downtown Portland. It would occupy an entire block between Congress, Pearl, and Myrtle streets, and Cumberland Avenue, and have almost 400 upscale condos and more than 150 hotel rooms. (Courtesy Reger Dasco Properties)
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The Portland Planning Board on Aug. 9 was slated to hold a public hearing and potential vote on a master development plan for a Congress Street project that would include hundreds of condominiums and hotel rooms.

The more than 365,000-square-foot project at 385 Congress St. would occupy an entire city block: Just over two acres between Congress, Myrtle, and Pearl streets, and Cumberland Avenue, across from City Hall and Merrill Auditorium, in the B-3 downtown business zone. 

It would include 397 condominiums, a 156-room hotel, ground-floor retail space, and structured parking as part of a $200 million-$300 million proposal by Portland-based Reger Dasco Properties, and would replace an existing building that the city has used for storage. 

It would be called Herald Square since it is the former site of the Portland Press Herald newspaper printing plant.

The parcel also contains two parking lots and was purchased by the company five years ago.

The project would be built in phases, according to the firm: The first two phases will include the construction of a condo building, the hotel, and structured parking; the third phase will include a second condo tower and additional parking. 

In addition to the master development plan, each phase of the project will require separate approval.

While Reger Dasco will develop the condos, the Fathom Cos., which manages the Press Hotel across Congress Street from City Hall, will develop the new hotel.

The condos will have high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, state-of-the-art appliances, a fitness center, garage parking, and a lobby concierge. 

According to the Planning Board packet, the buildout will include seven retail spaces totaling nearly 12,000 square feet, a 5,100-square-foot restaurant, and a 337-space parking garage. There will also be a “passive recreation space,” called an “amenity deck” in the packet, of just over 19,000 square feet.

According to the packet, the Planning Board was generally receptive to the project at its June 14 workshop, when it asked for replacement of a pocket park with a linear park; additional retail space; reduced area for condos, hotel space and parking, and a height reduction.

The developers said they will help meet the city’s need for workforce housing by either providing funding for Portland’s Housing Trust Fund or by building other housing to meet the city’s inclusionary zoning requirements. 

The city requires that a quarter of new units be affordably priced for renters and buyers making no more than 80 percent of the area median income. The developers could contribute $150,000 to the trust fund to fulfill that requirement.

Area median income is also known as median family income, and refers to the median or middle-income range for the region. In Portland, median income for a one-person household is just under $71,000 annually. At 80 percent, median income drops to just over $42,000. For a family of four, 100 percent AMI is nearly $101,000; at 80 percent it is just over $60,000.

The goal is to break ground for the first phases next year.

Reger Dasco has built several other high-end living spaces in Portland, including Hobson’s Landing in the Old Port, and the Mason Block, Bay House Condominiums, and 113 Newbury, all in the India Street neighborhood.

“We’re helping to meet the housing need in a time of very limited inventory,” Joseph Dasco, principal at Reger Dasco, said in a statement when the project was announced in March. “Our owners are drawn to the safety and sensible scale of Portland. In an era when you can work from almost anywhere, Portland is at the top of the list.”

Other business

The Planning Board was also scheduled to hold two workshops on Tuesday: 

• A zoning map and text amendment for the Initiative for Digital Engineering and Life Sciences to facilitate the creation of an institutional development plan and institutional overlay zone for the proposed Roux Institute campus at the former home of B&M Baked Beans in East Deering.

• A major site plan review for Maine Cooperative Development Partners, which is hoping to build 165 affordable housing units at 165 Lambert St. and 622 Auburn St. The 144,000-square-foot proposal, in the R-3 residential zone, would sit on just under 18 acres.