Are Big Changes in Store for the Iconic Portland, Maine, Custom House Wharf?
If you’ve spent any time wandering the streets of Portland, Maine, then you’ve probably encountered the iconic Custom House Wharf.
Some may know it simply as ‘the wharf’, others just know it as the remarkable view that gives Portland its character.
Workers use the secret road in between Portland Pier and Custom House Wharf as a smoke break sanctuary; Portlanders take advantage of the scenic lunch spot; and outsiders get lured to the view with their various tour groups.
For the first time in 200 years, Custom House Wharf will be taken over by a new family. According to an article in the Portland Press Herald, Kenneth McGowan’s family’s company has been the owner of the wharf since before 1807.
As the newspaper states, it is unknown who is taking over the wharf and what they will do with it. But as McGowan shared with the Herald, “there’s not much they can do differently.”
If you’re an OG Mainer like myself, this statement can come with a strong sense of relief.
When I see new people coming in and buying such notable spaces in Portland, my first panicked thought is that they will turn into another round of high-priced, luxury apartments that no real working Portlander can honestly afford.
Life circumstances over the past couple of years have pushed people out of major cities and large metropolitans and ignited a new interest in smaller spaces, slower rhythms, and life in nature.
You can’t blame the influx of New Yorkians and out-of-staters for their newly-found love of Maine, but it can get nerve-wracking when they show up with their checks ready to make big changes.
Custom House Wharf is currently a historic part of our town with famous restaurants, businesses, and spaces for lobster boats that Mainers love to admire. The wharf elicits a strong sense of home when you hear the seagulls cawing and watch a lobsterman pulling in his catch of the day while the sun glistens off their vessels.
You may be familiar with the local businesses on the wharf like Harbor Fish Market, Boone’s Family Restaurant, The Porthole, Gilbert’s Chowder House, and Sea Bags. These are staples to Portland and businesses that have been cherished for years
According to the Press Herald, the wharf comes with 1.5 acres of waterfront property, 100,000 square feet of space available to rent, and 3,700 feet of open dock space. Whoever this mystery buyer is, they are acquiring quite the catch.
As far as what they plan to do with it, we’ll have to wait until next year to find out.
Hopefully, the only changes will be any needed revamps and optimistically the rentable spaces will be new homes to local Maine businesses.