By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,674)
The huge white building with a green stripe around its bottom stands out on the Portland waterfront when driving past it. Although it’s been ignored by the same print media attention given to the Google structure that is its neighbor on West Commercial Street, that will change. It will all change soon as plans advance for a major new marine facility at 40 West Commercial Street in Portland. New Yard is the brainchild of wealthy Cape Elizabeth resident Phin Sprague, Jr., an experienced world-wide sailor. (Sprague’s father is a descendent of Andrew Carnegie.) Some of that sailing was done in the family’s mega- yacht, Lion’s Whelp, that will be housed at New Yard as well eventually. The yacht has been out of the water for about five years and for sale for much of that time due to an unresolved family financial crises.
Completed in December 2013, the tension fabric building will be used to store and repair ships of a much larger size than could be accommodated at Portland Yacht Services, 58 Fore Street. That’s the plan anyway. That list could include tug boats, Portland ferries, schooners from Ocean Classroom as well as private yachts from the Caribbean; a place that the ultra-luxurious Lion’s Whelp used to sail to until she was grounded by a Sprague financial crises.* That almost ten-acre plot of valuable property, a/k/a PYS, was sold to Jim Brady and his investment group last year for development. It is expected that Sprague will continue to manage the marina at the site – called Portland Yacht Services – for purchasers at the new mixed-use development. Whether it will continue to be a public marina is unknown by mhn.com The Portland Complex in which Portland Yacht Services is located, was once the major industrial location in the Portland area.
Behind the newly constructed building there is a concrete platform for additional outdoor yacht storage. Last year, Sprague also purchased most of the former Gowen Marine that maintains commercial ships such as fishing boats as well.
Years ago Sprague was rebuffed in an attempt to expand :Portland Yacht Services in its current location.
Sprague has not responded to numerous email requests over several months from mhn for information on this post.
* The 65 ft. Lion’s Whelp is an Alden designed Schooner largely built at Portland Yacht Services; mostly but the hull was not built at PYS. It was built as a replica of an ancestral schooner that brought the family from England to America in 1629.