Family Ensures Historic Portland, Maine Property Remains in Good Hands

Unlike many recent real estate transactions in Maine, the wharf is not being sold to the person willing to pay the highest price

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A piece of history in Portland, Maine will soon change hands, but unlike a number of recent real estate transactions in the Pine Tree State, is not being sold to highest bidder.

For roughly 200 years, the Poole family and its ancestors have owned Union Wharf off of Portland’s Commercial Street.

But according to Charlie Poole, one of its co-owners, some of the family is not interested in continuing to own the property so it was put up for sale.

“We’re at that point that, trying to be fair to the family, they have ownership that deserves to be bought out,” he said during a Monday interview with NECN/NBC 10 Boston.

“The only way we can really buy them out is to create some capital,” he explained, adding that the Pooles will retain ownership of two wharf buildings.

Unlike many recent real estate transactions in Maine, the wharf is not being sold to the person willing to pay the highest price.

Instead, the family sought out an entity that would preserve its working waterfront uses.

“One of the single-most important things to us was stewardship and who was going to carry the baton on after us to work with the various marine interests,” said Poole.

The buyer who ended up best suiting the Poole’s vision turned out to be a group right down the street.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute has announced it is purchasing the property for an undisclosed price.

“We decided to step in and protect it,” said Don Perkins, President and CEO of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, explaining that the organization wants to preserve the wharf’s diverse waterfront economy which employs fishermen, harbor pilots, and employees of an oil spill clean-up company among others.

“We have a deep and abiding concern for the future of our working waterfront,” said Perkins.

Asked about what changes to the wharf’s appearance might be made, if any, Perkins replied that certain buildings may have an additional floor added to them for added commercial space at some point in the future.

He also explained that GMRI hopes new companies or entities can use the wharf for ocean research and that the group will “play a key role developing ways to adapt” similar piers and wharfs to climate change related sea level rise.

According to Perkins, the deal for GMRI to purchase the wharf had not been finally closed as of Monday but that is expected to happen by the end of 2021.

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