Here’s one thing standing in the way of Portland’s plan to grow

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Tonight: The city needs more housing for families; weed becomes legal this month and a longtime tenant of the Public Market House is leaving this month.

What we’re talking about

Developers are building lots of housing, just not the right kind — Jake Bleiberg reported in today’s story:

Since 2014, the city has approved construction of more than 1,500 new homes, but the vast majority are too small to house families, which Portland needs in order to grow, city leaders say.

Over the past two decades, the cost of city services has risen while the number of taxpayers has remained relatively flat. The best way to span the resulting revenue gap is to add more people, according to city leaders, who want to boost Portland’s population from about 67,000 to 72,000 by 2027.

These new Portlanders will need homes and, spurred by high rents and low vacancies, developers are building lots of them. But they have too often been high-end, low-occupancy units that don’t attract the families who would drive sustained population growth and build vibrant neighborhoods, said Planning and Urban Development Director Jeff Levine.

“We need to focus more on providing family housing that people actually spend time in, as opposed to these pied-a-terres that people come to for the weekend,” said Levine. “Until a couple of years ago, a lot of the focus was on housing that attracted empty nesters.”

Check out Darren Fishell’s excellent map showing where all the new developments are. He also built a chart organizing them based on the number of bedrooms.

Weed will be legal in Maine on Jan. 30 — But Christopher Cousins reports that lawmakers are talking about putting a one-year moratorium in place while they figure out “how to implement the 10 percent sales tax in the law, where the money for state oversight will come from and how to test drivers for marijuana intoxication.”

Westbrook hate crime investigation turns up nothing — Five months after anti-Muslim messages were found at a Westbrook condo complex, the city’s police are closing their investigation without having ever named a suspect, the Press Herald’s Megan Doyle reports. But some Muslim residents say that the hate-crime investigation alone has assured them that they are welcome and safe in the community.  

It’s a bad day for cheese lovers — Kathleen Pierce reports that cheese shop K. Horton in the Public Market House is closing on Jan. 15 after 18 years in business.

You may have seen some stories going around about the death of Wessie — Just to be clear, if there ever was a giant snake in Westbrook, it would have died in October, when temperatures dropped.

Tweet of the day

From veteran Maine reporter Tom Bell:

Screenshot 2017-01-03 17.24.34

The Big Idea

‘There’s a massive restaurant industry bubble, and it’s about to burst’ — Kevin Alexander of Thrillist writes: “What we’re witnessing, as you see this rise of both the high and low end, is the hollowing out of the restaurant industry center — the gentrification of food, carried to its logical conclusion. You had something that was interesting and a great value, it attracted everyone, and now all that’s left until a rebirth is extravagance or thrift.”

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who first moved to Portland in 2002. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.