The Old Port is looking more and more like the mall

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Here’s what’s up.

What we’re talking about

Rendering of 164 Middle St. by Newport Development Associates

Rendering of 164 Middle St. by Newport Development Associates

Another national retail chain is moving into the Old Port. Modern furniture store West Elm will be taking over the empty building at the corner of Middle and Market streets.

The home furnishing supplier, which is owned by Williams-Sonoma, will be moving into the space at 164 Middle St. that formerly housed the White Cap Grille until the restaurant closed last year. West Elm aims to be open for business by next June after the building undergoes extensive renovations, according to local real estate agent Joe Malone, who brokered the deal between the building owner and the retail chain.

West Elm is the latest in a series of retail chains to move into the Old Port. In 2011, hipster clothing brand Urban Outfitters opened a shop half a block west of where West Elm will be. And in 2015, it was joined by upscale sister store Anthropologie at the corner of Middle and Pearl streets.

Earlier this month, the city’s Historic Preservation Board voted to allow alterations to the historic building at 164 Middle St. The work, including moving the entrance and restoring the building’s facade, is likely to take six months, said Malone.

The trend of name-brand stores opening up in Portland runs contrary to the anti-chain stance adopted by city government a decade ago. In 2006, the City Council passed zoning changes to block so-called formula business in the Old Port and creating “neighborhood business zone” elsewhere in the city, according to The Bollard. These ordinances were reportedly in response to a Dunkin’ Donuts and Hooters looking to open in Portland. — Jake Bleiberg


Fairchild’s new owner plans to cut 130 jobs, but won’t say where — The new owner of the South Portland semiconductor plant filed a notice with the federal government that it plans to cut 130 jobs. It’s just not clear where those cuts would occur.

Creative Portland’s new director is a ‘Saturday Night Live’ alumna — Dinah Minot is a veteran Hollywood producer (“Wayne’s World,” “Coneheads,” “Kids in the Hall”), co-producer and head of talent for Saturday Night Live from 1985-90, and director and editor of Lorne Michaels Productions from 2006-09. The lifelong summer resident of North Haven takes over for Jennifer Hutchins, who left in July. She starts Oct. 5. — Kathleen Pierce

Sidenote: her husband, actor Whip Hubley, was in “Top Gun” (he played Lt. Rick Neven, AKA Hollywood).

LePage’s probe of human rights panel finds no bias against businessesA panel convened by Gov. Paul LePage to determine if the Maine Human Rights Commission operates with a bias against businesses has found no such bias exists.

Portland’s pigeon whispering poet wants you to keep your head up — You know the guy in Congress Square with all the pigeons? Well, he also is a poet. Troy Bennett captured a video of Starr Sarabia reading a poem as part of an occasional series with the poet/bird lover.

The Big Idea

The teen birth rate keeps dropping — The Los Angeles Times writes:

Declines like this add up. The teen birth rate is now 46 percent lower than it was in 2007 and 64 percent lower than in 1991, researchers at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics found.


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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.