Portland’s Historic Union Wharf is Being Sold and Preserved for Maritime Use

Union Wharf, a cornerstone of the waterfront in operation in Maine’s largest city for 228 years, is being purchased by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in a transaction that aims to maintain access for fishermen, response personnel to oil spills, lobster wholesalers and other maritime businesses.

The pier has been in private hands since it was built after the destruction of Portland in the American Revolution. Members of the Poole family have owned it since the 1950s, investing in maintaining and improving the working pier for more than half a century, when much of the city’s commercial waterfront was in decline. Working waterfront advocates have feared the property would end up in less sympathetic hands, for example an out-of-state developer, since the Pooles revealed they were selling it in March.

Instead, the Pooles, led by brothers Charlie and Malcolm, are selling to their immediate neighbor, GMRI, a marine research institution that bought and rehabilitated Wrights Wharf just to the west and has specialized in research relevant to fisheries, aquaculture. and other maritime industries. GMRI’s offer was not the highest, Charlie Poole told the Press Herald, but they decided to sell the institute because of their commitment to remain long-term stewards of the pier as the anchor of the working shoreline. Neither party wanted to reveal the price.

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