In the late 1980s, the Waterfront Alliance began drafting recommendations for Portland's waterfront zones. Those recommendations laid the groundwork for the waterfront's future, and established the Waterfront Port Development Zone as an industrial working port.
In 1993 the Waterfront Alliance submitted the "Waterfront Alliance Recommendations to the City of Portland" at the request of city officials. The proposal outlined the plan for Portland's waterfront, establishing what would later become the Eastern Waterfront Port Zone, Central Waterfront Zone, and Waterfront Port Development Zone. The Waterfront Port Development Zone starts just east of the Fore River and continues west to Sprague Energy. Because of its proximity to the highway, rail lines, and access to deep water, the western waterfront has remained the prime location for the Port of Portland on the north side of the Fore River.
Visions of a viable port on this side of the Fore River have only recently come to fruition. In 2009, Maine Port Authority began leasing the International Marine Terminal from the city of Portland. And in 2013, the Icelandic shipping company, Eimskip, made Portland their U.S. port-of-call. For the first time in over 40 years, the Terminal is a thriving cargo facility.
For the past 24 years, since the Waterfront Alliance's Recommendations, the zoning on the western waterfront has remained the same. But increased activity and a new cold storage facility proposal at the International Marine Terminal has prompted the city to reconsider zoning on the western waterfront, a prospect that is exciting for some and worrisome for others.
Maine Port Authority, SOLI DG, and Eimskip have accepted a bid from the cold storage corporation, Americold, to build a warehouse as part of the terminal's intermodal transportation facility. In order to make their 20 - 30 million dollar investment viable, Americold has proposed a building that would reach 68 feet at its highest point, to have space for 15,800 cold storage pallets and 5,000 dry storage pallets. A building of this height would require new height regulations on the western waterfront, which has caused concerns for some residents who live above the building site.
A cold storage warehouse on the western waterfront is the next logical step for this intermodal facility, according Larus Ísfeld, the managing director of Eimskip in the U.S.
"A good port needs to have an infrastructure to receive the products off the vessels, it needs to have an infrastructure to store the products that comes off the vessel,s and it needs to have an infrastructure that then delivers the product to market... A good port needs to have all of these aspects - it can't be missing one of them because they all support each other."
To hear the story about new developments and proposals on the western waterfront, and what it means for residents and business owners alike, please watch the slideshow above or watch here. If you prefer audio only, listen here.
Wharfside: Stories of Portland Harbor's Working Waterfront explore the people, places, and work in Portland Harbor through photos, audio stories, and video. This story for Wharfside is made possible by the Maine Port Authority and hosted by Waterfront Alliance. Produced by Galen Koch © 2017. Photos by Justin Levesque. Music for this piece provided by Ross Gallagher and Loch Lomond. Animation assistance from Lake Buckley.