A second neighborhood meeting focused on the controversial construction of a massive cold storage warehouse on the western waterfront scheduled for Monday, February 13th has been postponed due to the predicted blizzard headed our way. The meeting was scheduled for Reiche School between 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm.
If you haven’t been paying attention, Americold a Georgia based company, won a Port Authority RFP to build a 45 ft. high cold storage warehouse to assist EIMSKIP in its container shipping business. However, apparently following a meeting with city officials, Americold decided to request a change to the ordinance and request a 70 ft. high building rather than the 45 ft. building it agreed to build.
Some critics of the height change charge that the city is really trying to develop a safe zone for future development exceeding 45 ft. Phin Sprague, Jr., developer of New Yard, has lobbied in favor of the height increase – saying it would have helped his business if the higher height ordinance been in place when his main building was constructed. The City has currently increased that height change request by another 5 ft. – to 75 ft. – not just to 70 ft.
Bill Needleman, waterfront coordinator for the city’s Economic Development Office, has lobbied the planning board several times for the zoning change. But the planning board has remained unified and committed that it needs justification or a ‘business plan’ for this change. A position that City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, a real estate attorney and member of the city’s Economic Development Committee, appears to support as well now.
At the Economic Development Committee meeting on November 1, 2016, Councilor Thibodeau received several assurances from Jedd Steinglass, Woodard & Curran, representing Americold locally, that the international company would not return to the city asking to expand its footprint at a later date. The Councilor said that his constituents would ask him about that issue. However, Thibodeau did not question the proposed height change to 70 ft. on behalf of his constituents on the west end of Portland. (Please visit post herein dated November 1, 2016 for more information on this subject.)
The project is seriously behind schedule. Originally, the ordinance change was expected to go the City Council for a first read on December 15, 2016. It was expected it would then return to the City Council for final approval in January 2017.
EIMSKIP, a container shipping company, chose Portland to be its North American headquarters because of its deep port and the opportunity to be a ‘big fish’ in a small city.
Stay tuned for more information on a new date for the meeting.
Please email Jo Coyne for more information at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more background information on the controversial ordinance, please google munjoyhillnews.com Americold.