The Soucy family, owners of Port Harbor Marine in South Portland, have received approval to build a new, two-story restaurant at the marina. The family also is expected to receive approval from the City Council this week for a new long-term lease for the marina at Spring Point.
The new restaurant building, which likely would not be open for business until sometime next year, would take the place of the now closed Joe’s Boathouse, which will be torn down. The restaurant, with a total of 7,200 square feet, would have two outdoor patios or decks and seating for 100 guests.
The South Portland Planning Board voted 6-1, with Kathleen Phillips absent, to approve the new restaurant at its June 28 meeting. The new eatery will be owned and operated by Laura Argitis, who also runs the Old Port Sea Grill in Portland.
As part of the approval for the new restaurant, the Planning Board limited the hours of operation from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The board also required the Soucy family to protect and maintain current public access along the Spring Point Shoreway.
While several condominium owners in the nearby Breakwater development said they were concerned about noise, at least one neighbor, Bob Courier, called the Soucy family “great neighbors” and said, “I’ve never had an issue with excessive noise.”
And while there was also some concern amongst neighbors about the new restaurant having a bar, Argitis said, “this will not be a pub. This is very much people enjoying great food and wine. It’s a Class A restaurant.”
In order to eliminate any undue impact on the neighbors, the Soucy family has also agreed to plant a variety of new screening vegetation and install a soundproof wall on the second story deck to keep voices from carrying.
In addition, the family has agreed not to allow any live music after 9 p.m. and not to have any outdoor speakers. Overall, Tex Haeuser, South Portland’s director of planning, said the Soucy family “has adjusted their original proposal to meet the concerns of” the neighbors.
Project architect Harry Hepburn said the new building was designed with a roof well, to better hide and screen any rooftop equipment, and that the family would be creating an additional grassed area of about 3,000 square feet on the site.
The exterior of the restaurant would be primarily wood siding, with lots of windows to provide views of Portland Harbor. In all, Hepburn said, the new restaurant would be in compliance with all of the city’s setback requirements for the zone.
The restaurant would be set well back from the water, in order to avoid triggering any federal flood issues, Hepburn said. Mike Soucy also assured the Planning Board that the Spring Point Shoreway would be “better than it looks now” after construction is complete.
Although the Soucy family owns and operates Port Harbor Marine, the nearly 5-acre parcel the business sits on is actually owned by the city of South Portland.
In 1980 the city entered into a 40-year lease with the marina and since then, according to City Manager Jim Gailey, the Soucy’s have “built a world class marina, accessible to the public, (that’s) a landmark amenity in South Portland.”
With new development proposed for the marina, the city and Soucy’s entered into new lease negotiations this year, and at its meeting on Wednesday, July 6, held after the Current’s print deadline, the City Council was set to renew the lease through 2050 at a base rate of $70,000, with an annual increase of $5,000 through 2020, along with a certain percentage of gross income.
After 2020 the annual lease payment would be based on a fair market appraisal of the property’s value. In addition, under the lease the city would rebuild the entrance road from Breakwater Drive at a cost of about $25,000.
Also, under the lease, the city would contribute $100,000, in the form of a rental credit in 2020, to offset the cost of a variety of capital improvements that will be performed by Port Harbor Marine, including dredging.
This is an architectural rendering the new restaurant at the Spring Point Marina in South Portland.
A front view of the proposed new restaurant at the Spring Point Marina in South Portland.