Gulf of Maine Research Institute Buys Union Wharf


The Gulf of Maine Research Institute Announced its Intent to Purchase Union Wharf. GMRI is Located at 350 Commercial Street.

A View of Union Wharf From a Nearby Wharf.

Another View of Union Wharf from a Nearby Wharf.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) and the Proprietors announced yesterday they have signed a purchase and sale agreement to transfer ownership of Union Wharf to GMRI to protect and preserve working waterfront access in Portland Harbor.

In March, The Proprietors of Union Wharf, led by fifth-generation owners and managers Charlie and Malcolm Poole, began working with The Dunham Group to find a new owner for the wharf.  After 160 years of ownership, the Poole family sought “a likke-minded entity to carry on the tradition of maintaining a working pier and a working waterfront” according to a press release issued by GMRI.

After extensive discussions with stakeholders, GMRI submitted a proposal to purchase Union Wharf.  The Poole family selected the GMRI bid because of its commitment to steward the wharf as the centerpiece of the city’ s working waterfront and because it offered a fair price.

“For generations, the Poole family has felt very strongly about stewartship to Union Wharf and more broadly to the working waterfront in the Port of Portland,” Charlie Poole said. “The Gulf of Maine Research Institute brings a very similar view of the working waterfront and the necessary commitment to maintaining the infrastructure to a very high standard.  We felt they would be the best fit to take over the ownershi and management of Union Wharf going forward.”

Union Wharf is Portland’ oldest commercial wharf, built in 1793 at a time when horse-drawn carts carried goods between buildings, tall clipper ships visitd the docks and sailors, stevedores and fishermen passed each other in the street. Family predecessors to the Pooles were involved as easily proprietors and owners as early as the mid-1800s.  In the ears since, Union Wharf has seen Portland through the Great Fire of 1866, industralization and the threat of climate change.

As Portland evolved into a thriving mixed-use waterfront over the last 50 years, fishermen requiring access to the water and developers hoping to convert piers into retail spaces, hotels and condominiums began to compete for real estate – introducing the challenge that exists today.

In the future, GMRI plans to expand Union Wharf’s capacity to support innovative fishermen and fish processors, our growing aquaculture industry and other innovations in our maine economy.

“Union Wharf is blessed with a hardworking, innovative and diverse mix of marine tenants,” said Don Perkins, president and CEO of GMRI.  “We look forward to supporting them in the same spirit that the Poole family has done for 160 years.”