City Approves WEX Land Sale Despite Objections, Etc.

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Jonathan Cohen at the City Council Meeting Tonight; He is Also the Developer for 10 Exchange Street; the Bottom Floors Are Owned by Joe Soley.

Schyla and Jon St. Laurent Re-opening Uncle Billy’s Bar-B-Que Early Next Year and Kailey Partin, of Rising Tide Brewing Co. (front row) at Tonight’s Meeting.

The City Council voted unanimously tonight to approve a purchase and sales agreement for $3.3 million between the City of Portland and Jonathan Cohen, d/b/a 0 Hancock Street for 1.1 acres located at Thames Street directly across from Ocean Gateway.  The four-story building is to be the global headquarters for WEX a payment processing company currently located in South Portland.  Retail space will be on the first floor with most likely a restaurant facility to be included for employees.

Mayor Ethan Strimling asked Cohen, as he did at the August 1st Economic Development Committee meeting, if the building were going to be LEED certified.  Cohen said no.  The Mayor said that in view of climate change issues he was looking for a high bar in environmental protections by developers. This as city manager Poor Jon watched –  shaking his head from side to side – like –  I can’t believe this misguided Mayor!  Sad SO Sad!

Maggie Wolf, a Hill resident said that when the city has an opportunity to sell it’s property, there should be a demand for clean air.  “The city should use its leverage to structure environmental goals,” she said.  George Rowe, a Bayside resident said:  “…..sixty-three % of WEX’s revenue comes from fossil fuels and oil”.  Rowe an attorney stated that the company has “new relationships” with Sunoco, Chevron and Exxon, to name a few.  “Fossil fuel and climate change are linked,” he said.  Munjoy Hill resident Karen Snyder expressed concern about possible parking problems for residents of Peaks Island with the construction of this new building.

Cohen owns AD&W Architectural Doors and Windows.  He owns 10 Exchange Street, whose condominium units recently came on the market.  Old Port landlord Joe Soley still owns the first two floors.

The closing date is set for October 1, 2017 with occupancy expected in 2019.

The City Council also approved an application for outdoor dining at 166 Cumberland Avenue, the site of a reincarnation of Uncle Billy’s Bar-B-Que.  The original was established in 1989 in South Portland.  The 32-seat restaurant will also have summer time out door dining and feature smoked meats.  Chef Jonny is the “guru of barbecue” and an opening is expected early next year.

Another approval came for expansion plans for the popular craft brewery Rising Tide in East Bayside, 103 Fox Street.   Kailey Partin said plans include an outdoor patio, a tasting room and a space for community events.  The space became available because of the recent relocation of Maine Craft Distillery up to 123 Washington Avenue.  It’s hoped that the expansion of Rising Tide will be completed some time this fall.  (See above right photo.)

Please see post herein dated August 3, 2017 for more background information on the WEX development.