This morning tractor trailors began arriving early at 93 Washington Avenue and a Keeley crane began offloading them onto the space awaiting the arrival of these shipping containers already leased by start-up businesses looking for a way to sell their products without a huge financial investment initially. The leases are month-to-month.
Jed T. Harris, former owner of the property, the former and nearby Creighton & Sons Building and the former J. J. Nissen Bakery company building, began the approval process for the “Black Box” rentals with the city of Portland several years ago. In the meantime, Harris hired SnapSpaceSolutions, of New Hampshire, to put the project together Harris told this blogger last year.
Earlier this year, Harris, who no longer owns the property, was asked by this blogger why it has taken so long to get these units up and running. Harris blamed the delay on SnapSpaceSolutions – saying the out-of-state company is so busy they have not been able to get to his Portland project. But when Cowperthwaite, COO of SnapSpace Consultations was asked the same question by this blogger, he responded: “It’s the city’s fault. The process for change of use permits here is so slow,” he said rolling his eyes and grimacing. Another person with first hand knowledge of the process for 93 Washington Avenue said: “Portland is infamous for its slow processes.”
This comment despite apparent efforts by the city to streamline its permitting process does not have everyone convinced. Several studies have been conducted over the past to find ways to streamline the permitting process. New processes have been implemented by the arrogant Mike Russell designed to expedite the process. This permitting process was handled internally and never went to the planning board. So, the nasty details never received public scrutiny. It gets confusing!
It is expected that the businesses who have leased space in these so-called “black box” rentals will be able to move into them next week. They include a cheese shop, and an expresso coffee bar. The other uses are unverified to this blogger at this time.
This reminds me of an unfortunate situation a few years ago. Funds from the estate of the wealthy Elizabeth Noyes, were used to build the brand new Public Market in downtown Portland. It was intended to help start-ups get a start in their field of endeavor. However, one vendor who was not successful in his start-up business there said most of his problem was that the Market had such expensive requirements that it was not possible for him to meet those expenses in a start-up business. Specifically, as I remember the cash register system was complicated and thus too expensive for start-ups.
The “black boxes” could be a remedy for this situation.