Sunday, December 20, 2009

Portsmouth building boom slowed by credit crunch

Fallout from the credit crisis and financial meltdown of 2007-2008 is still all around us these days. Even with improving conditions, you can hardly read a newspaper or watch the news on TV without some mention of the crisis and its impact. Although many people and businesses have been financially impacted, physical signs of the crisis are just now starting to show up on our local landscape.

Construction of hotel in Portwalk project (map)

I was in Portsmouth the other day and I did a quick photo shoot of some of the development projects underway. I had done a similar tour earlier in the year and while some of the projects seem to be going along strong, others have been delayed or scaled back. Causation can be hard to pinpoint, but it's probably a safe bet that many of the delays in these projects are due to financing issues or concerns about the economy.

In downtown Portsmouth, the Portwalk project is still moving along, although the developer split the project into three phases and is only working on phase I currently. Phase I includes a 128 room Residence Inn by Marriott and 12,000 sq feet of retail space. Phases II and III include condos (or maybe apartments), more office and commercial space, and a parking garage but seems to be on hold indefinitely at this point.

Rendering of the proposed Portwalk project (

Parade Mall (Portwalk site) just before demolition (June 2009)

Parade Mall demolition (June 2009)

Shell of Residence Inn is nearly weather tight (Dec 2009)

View of Residence Inn from Maplewood and Deer (Dec 2009)

Rendering of Portwalk's Residence Inn from Hanover Street (

A Westin Hotel has also been approved across the street from the Portwalk project. The Westin project appeared ready to go, and the hotel was even listed on the Westin's website. However, there are no signs of construction and the hotel listing on the Westin website has been removed. There's no official word on the status of the project at this point.

Site of future Westin Hotel next to Deer Street in Portsmouth (map)

Also downtown, the Martingale Wharf project is just now coming out of a 9 month long stall. Work has recently started again on this 50,000 sq ft retail, commercial, and residential condo project on Bow Street after months of sitting idle.

Photo of Martingale Wharf project from across the river taken in June 2009 (map)

Photo from December shows little progress on the project since June

On the positive side, the project at the old Pier One Restaurant site (soon to be residential condos) appears to be moving along despite the tough economic conditions, as shown in the photo below.

Photo of work at the old Pier One Restaurant site at the end of State Street (map)

Finally, the City of Portsmouth project to relocate the waterfront deck at Poco's Restaurant and rehabilitate the public right-of-way seems to be coming along. With the construction of a new building at Martingale's Wharf, this area now offers the only riverfront view on this section of Bow Street.

View of small city park under construction behind Poco's Restaurant (map)

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