Portland city officials want to hear from residents after a developer in Maine has suggested turning a historic landmark into a mixed-use site.
Mike Dugay's idea is to have Fort Gorges, a national historic site that was constructed around the same time as the Civil War, play host to high-end restaurants and other businesses.
The fort, which is owned by the City of Portland, was shored up in 2017 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers but is in need of major structural repairs.
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Paul Drinan, the executive director of the non-profit Friends of Fort Gorges (FOFG), says the city has committed to cover about half of $420,000 in repair expenses, if his group comes up with the other necessary funds.
“The Army Corp. performed a hazard mitigation project in 2017,” Drinan said. “It did a lot to make the fort safer, but there were zero physical repairs.”
FOFG has worked on the plan for years, which is why they were surprised when Dugay, who moved to the city from Florida, released a plan of his own.
“The biggest difference is his is a return on investment, as opposed to the Friends, which have a return on community model,” Drinan said of Dugay.
A Facebook message requesting comment from Dugay was not returned Tuesday.
He has shared news reports outlining his plans with the caption: “Join in freeing Fort Gorges for everyone, not the few.”
FOFG and the City of Portland hope the public will make clear how they feel about what the fort’s future should look like at a public meeting, scheduled for September 4 at East End School.
City spokeswoman Jessica Grondin has said Portland officials will not talk about any formal plans or concepts at the meeting but instead they'll ask people attending to simply share their opinions.