Neighborhood Spotlight: Western Commercial Street, Portland

Derek Miller  /   January 6, 2020

Portland’s Eastern waterfront area has been the subject of much press recently, and deservedly so. The neighborhood has undergone a tremendous amount of growth in a short period. This part of Portland has seen a boom of hotels, residential development, and office buildings housing some of Maine’s largest companies. The southwest corner of downtown, where the Old Port and West End meet, is experiencing a similar growth trend.

The Courtyard by Marriott was the first notable development in this part of the city. A six-story steel-frame brick building with a first-floor retail suite, a hotel on floors one through five, and condos on the sixth floor. The retail suite is occupied by Tiqa, a sizeable Mediterranean restaurant with a great outdoor patio.
Developer JB Brown then built a new five-story building on the corner of York and High Street. The first floor (at 101 York Street) has over 15,000 sf of new retail space, which we are currently offering for lease, and a 105-space parking garage. The retail space can be split into as many as three units and has the infrastructure for a restaurant. The residential portion of the development on floors two through five has a separate entrance off of High Street (25 High Street). The residences are a mix of one, two, and three-bedroom condos, which were completed in late 2017 and have all sold. The parking garage is decked over, creating a surface lot with 150 additional parking spaces accessed off of Danforth Street.

A five-story hotel is currently under construction on the corner of Central and Commercial Street, being built by developer Jim Brady who was also responsible for the popular Press Hotel on upper Exchange Street in Portland. This new hotel will have 135 rooms and an indoor-outdoor rooftop bar overlooking the waterfront. Renderings show a well-designed building with a brick and glass façade.

Moving west down Commercial Street, the former Rufus Deering Lumber site (bracketed by York, High, and Maple Streets) is currently in development as well. The project here is slated for three phases, with the first two already underway. On the corner of Commercial and Maple Street, across from the previously mentioned Courtyard by Marriott, the foundation for the new Aloft Hotel is taking shape. The six-story building will have a granite base with brick and glass finishes above, a ground-floor lounge, and other amenities. In the second phase, adjacent to the Aloft Hotel, Reger Dasco’s Hobson’s Landing is making significant progress. The seven-story building has retail on the first floor available for sale or lease (ranging in size from 1,639 to 3,610 sf) through Malone Commercial Brokers. Located in between the two retail spaces is the lobby and concierge for the residences. A total of 89 units are spread over floors two through seven and also include a club and fitness room. Occupancy for phase two is estimated for fall 2020. Phase three of the project is planned for the corner of High and Commercial Street and will boast approximately 100 more residential units and 5,000 square feet of retail space. All phases of this project will have public space and pedestrian ways located between them, which will better connect York and Commercial Street.

These projects exemplify a significant change taking shape quickly, and somewhat quietly compared to the chatter about the Eastern Waterfront. Western Commercial Street is well underway to being a thriving city district with a robust population of both locals in the residences and “people from away” in the hotels. This area has convenient accessibility due to its proximity to the Casco Bay Bridge and I-295 via West Commercial Street. Planned development for a 62,000-square-foot VA clinic on an 8.4-acre site of West Commercial Street was also just announced. I am incredibly excited to see the growth of this area continue to take form, both as a commercial broker helping to shape the cityscape and as a resident who lives in one of the neighborhood’s condo units.