Portland Yacht Services Plans Major Expansion Along the Western Waterfront; “New Yard” to Offer Services for Commercial & Large Yachts

Tugboat “Albany” in flying dry dock in 2005 under contract for New Yard. (photo courtesy Roger Hale)

Sketch of New Yard – numbers 1,2,and 3 identify the buildings to be built in a multi-phase development

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,202)

This afternoon a submission package on behalf of New Yard -Phase 1 was filed at Portland’s planning and development department by Phineas Sprague, Jr. New Yard, LLC, is a company created by Phineas Sprague, Jr., owner of Portland Yacht Services. Sprague has a contract to buy about 14 acres just west of the Casco Bay Bridge. Unitil and Pam Am Railroad currently own the property. The purchase is conditional upon Sprague receiving all the permitting needed from the city and state. Its purpose is to rehabilitate much of the shoreline west of the Casco Bay Bridge and turn it into berthing, floating dock facilities and related uses for commercial boats as well as large yachts. New Yard will be able to accommodate boats up to 15,000 tons at 40 West Commercial Street rather than 44 tons, its current capacity.

“Events and the boat yard at Portland Yacht Services are growing fast. Sometimes they are in serious conflict with each other and sometimes we bump elbows,” Sprague told mhn.com recently. The historic Portland Yacht Services is home to the spring Flower Show, the Boat Show, an upcoming Beer Festival, the Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. and a number of small marine related businesses as well as weddings and non-profit benefits. Limited parking is one of the biggest challenges at times.

Sprague plans on building three buildings on the 14 acres of land in this multi-phase development. One building will be 120 ft. by 170 ft. similar to building # 5 at PYS. He is committed to a travel lift basin, two boat ramps and a dry dock. The dry dock will be rented from Roger Hale, Marine Construction Co., with an option to purchase it eventually. When the permitting process is completed, Sprague has hired Gorham Sand & Gravel Co. to level the site, clear the brush and make the surface acceptable for boats. He will also talk to the Harbor Commission and tugboat captains in the area to be sure there are no conflicts with them. Since the property is zoned for a boat yard, Sprague will not be asking for any variances. Although he’d like to have a building taller than 45 ft., for painting maintenace of boats, he will not ask for a variance for that.

Sprague acknowledged that the land is polluted. But he has contracted with Unitil to remediate the land to make it safe for boats and people. Sprague, an around-the-world sailor and expert on the subject, said he has been working on this project for years.

New Yard applicants have requested a preliminary workshop before the planning board in September.