Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Trump is not coming after all; the trial of the Noyes Street fire landlord began today; and we have some important parking news.
What we’re talking about
Parking is no longer a perk in the fast-moving Portland condo boom.
At Luminato, which recently broke ground at Newbury and Franklin streets, condo owners are snapping up add-on garage parking spots for $34,000 to $37,000 with attached storage. That’s after shelling out $250,000 to just under $1 million for units with high ceilings and modern finishings.
Over at the East End Lofts, it’s the same story.
“We agonized over it a year and a half ago. The idea of selling a condo without parking and no off-street parking … will people buy them?” said Tom Landry, owner of Benchmark Real Estate, and partner in the 10-condo complex on Congress Street that opens soon.
The answer, apparently, is yes, they will. Of the six condos under contract, two parking spots have sold for $25,000, Landry said. Those spots are not in a garage, but in an outside lot.
“It’s the trend of the future, part of urban infill. We are catching up to other cities,” said Landry, who calls this “a paradigm shift” for Portland.
By selling the spaces separately, developers say they are giving residents the option whether to buy one instead of including it in the price of a unit — and getting them to question whether a gas-guzzling vehicle is essential in a city that’s becoming more pedestrian friendly.
“I recognize providing parking as one of the obstacles to creating reasonably priced housing on the peninsula,” said Chip Newell, principal of NewHeight Group, the company behind Luminato and 118 Munjoy. “It’s [parking] on people’s list of requirements. I wish people would get away from that.”
Of the 26 indoor spots he is building, 12 have been sold so far. And there is a waiting list for residents who want two, Newell said.
Both developers mentioned Uber, biking, scooters and plain old walking as alternatives. Landry is offering a $5,000 discount to buyers who opt to move in car-free.
Why so pricey? Newell says it actually cost $50,000 to build each space.
“There is a shortage of labor, and subcontractors now cost more,” said Newell, adding he has seen construction prices soar 15 to 20 percent in the two years since his last project. He must build a steel and concrete foundation for the two-floor garage first — a more costly endeavor than a wood frame if he was just erecting housing.
If they built it, will they fill it?
“I was surprised that several people moving to Maine don’t have vehicles,” said Landry, questioning Portland’s walkability in the dead of winter. “I thought, wow. That’s cool.” — Kathleen Pierce
In other news
Prosecution: Landlord in fatal Portland fire gave tenants useless rope ladders — Jake Bleiberg lays out the opening arguments in the Noyes Street fire trial.
The landlord charged with manslaughter in the state’s deadliest fire in decades knew that there was no second exit on the third floor of his building, so he gave residents rope ladders in case they needed to escape, a prosecutor said Monday morning.
But the windows in the upper bedrooms were too small to climb out of, and three people were trapped and died during the Halloween 2014 blaze, Assistant Attorney General John Alsop said.
“All three occupants of the third floor could and would have escaped the fire if indeed there was a means of escape,” he said.
Trump cancels Thursday rally in Portland citing ‘routing issue’ — MIke Shepherd writes:
Portland spokeswoman Jessica Grondin said Trump’s campaign canceled the planned Thursday rally at the Portland Expo, citing a “campaign routing issue.” The Maine Republican Party didn’t acknowledge the event on Friday.
It comes during what’s shaping up to be a bad week for his campaign against Democrat Hillary Clinton after The New York Times’ Saturday bombshell report that he could have avoided paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years. The same night, he gave a particularly disjointed speech in Pennsylvania.
Honoring ‘permanent Portlanders’ — Troy Bennett has been pretty busy lately. He’s on a mission to tell the stories of 31 people buried in Portland over the course of October — one story a day.
So far, he’s featured Portland’s first bank robber, and a woman who apparently gave birth to 14 kids in 15 years. Today’s honors Rev. William Reese, who founded the Widow’s Wood Society, a charity organized to provide fuel to widows during the cold Maine winters.
The Big Idea
‘Finally. Someone who thinks like me.’ — The Washington Post on Saturday published this deep profile of one Trump supporter, Melanie Austin of Brownsville, Pennsylvania. Read to the end.
She was a 52-year-old woman who had worked 20 years for the railroad, had once been a Democrat and was now a Republican, and counted herself among the growing swath of people who occupied the fringes of American politics but were increasingly becoming part of the mainstream. Like millions of others, she believed that President Obama was a Muslim. And like so many she had gotten to know online through social media, she also believed that he was likely gay, that Michelle Obama could be a man, and that the Obama children were possibly kidnapped from a family now searching for them.
Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet @dsmacleod.
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