As a Mainer, I Have Mixed Feelings About a Potential Congress Street Redevelopment Project in Portland
A Born and Raised Mainer
I will try my best to go easy on this subject and focus on the main important parts, but here is a fair warning: Things are about to get opinionated.
As the heading suggests, I am a born and raised Mainer. I grew up in Cumberland/North Yarmouth and have spent most of my life here in the Pine Tree State. I ran away to Miami for a few years but recently made my joyous return back home.
Growing up in Maine, I didn’t want to live here. I took it for granted and wanted to move away. But, traveling both in and outside of the country made me realize everything I need is right here in this state and specifically right here in Portland.
I’m apparently not the only one that feels this way.
We’re used to the influx of tourists once the weather warms or when the leaves start to change colors but we are starting to see a major inflow of outside folks physically moving and hunkering down here. The new fixation on Maine, and particularly Portland, is causing intense inflation in rent prices and an impressive increase in businesses opening around town.
Portland, Maine, A Growing Metropolitan
More people flooding into town means a need for more places for people to stay. If you drive around the city of Portland, you’ll notice constant construction underway building brand new condos and apartments to house the newcomers.
As a local Mainer, I have mixed feelings about all of this. It is a beautiful thing to see the city you love grow and develop but I personally feel we should be putting our resources into our local folk who need it. These condominiums, hotels, and apartments popping up are far from affordable for the average working Portlander and it feels like we are getting pushed out of our own city.
I can sense a tangent coming so before I keep rattling, I guess I should fill you in on the potential Congress Street project. I promised I’d stick to the main important parts so here you go:
Congress Street Redevelopment Project in Portland, “Herald Square”
The city of Portland, according to U.S. News, is considering a $200-300 million redevelopment project on Congress Street that would entail the erection of 300 condominiums, a 150-room hotel, shops, and parking. The new development would be built east of City Hall if approved.
The project plan needs to first be approved by the Portland Planning Board and then it will move on from there and jump through all its necessary hoops. If approved, the first stage of construction could begin as soon as next year and the city would begin its fabrication of “Herald Square”.
A Mainer’s Opinion
I know none of you asked for my opinion but I’m back to keep sharing it.
I would be all for these new projects if there was a guarantee that they would truly benefit the working class of Portland. If these were affordable housing units popping up I would welcome them in with open arms but based on the prices of the other new condos coming into town, something tells me this will not be in the budget of a middle-class citizen.
Another downer for me is that this just brings so many people into one small space. We are not a very large city, which is what I love about it. I’ve always loved how slow pace and small Portland is but as the metropolitan continues to grow, more traffic and people are crowding the streets. It just makes me feel like we’re turning into Boston or New York City and if I wanted to live in a major city like that, I wouldn’t be in Maine.
I guess I'm just nervous we'll lose our city's character. I just left a major city to move back home to be away from the traffic, all the people, and the nuisances of living in a large metropolitan and I feel like those vibes are about to follow me here to Portland. But mostly, I'm disheartened that with all the growth and expansion, I know I'll never be able to afford to live in my favorite place.