PORTLAND (AP) – Competing proposals to develop the Maine State Pier both failed to get the needed support from the City Council.

The bids by Olympia Cos. and Ocean Properties fell one vote short of the five votes needed to begin negotiations with the city for the right to develop the pier. The votes Monday night mean the issue will go back before the council in two weeks.

Bob Baldacci of Portsmouth, N.H.-based Ocean Properties, whose proposal had been recommended by the council’s three-member Community Development Committee, called the council’s action “absurd” and warned that his team may abandon its $100 million project.

But Kevin Mahaney from Portland-based Olympia praised the council for having the “courage” to work toward the best project possible.

Both developers are seeking a long-term lease on the seven-acre pier acre. They plan to build a hotel, office building, restaurants and a park.

Councilor Jim Cloutier, who supports Ocean Properties, said the stakes are high because the deteriorating pier will require $15 million to $20 million in repairs. Cloutier said Ocean Properties, which owns and manages 130 hotels around the country, employs 20,000 people. “We are talking about a truly huge company,” he said.

Leeman said she supported Olympia Cos. because the design was better suited to the site and provided better public access than the “cookie cutter” design proposed by Ocean Properties.

“This isn’t about bigger being better,” she said. “It is about what is the best project, from the standpoint of design and the amenities it offers Portland, financial and otherwise.”

The winning bidder will have to negotiate with the city manager on terms of the lease. Afterward, the final plan will go back to the City Council, which could have a different makeup after the November election.


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