In 2016, five distinct Portland-based, LGBTQ+ oriented non-profits came together under one roof to form a safe and collaborative work place for organizations providing services to the LGBTQ+ community. This new collaborative, The Equality Community Center (ECC), is currently housed in an office space leased by the ECC at 511 Congress Street in Portland. Current participating ECC organizations currently include Equality Maine, GLSEN, Sage Maine, PFLAG, and Maine TransNet, and Pride Portland
The initial coming together of these organizations represents the first stage of the Equality Community Center’s long-term vision to develop and own a commercial property where the ECC can strengthen and expand its service to the LGBTQ+ community. To that end, the next stage in the evolution of the Equality Community Center will be the development of a newly constructed, mixed-use building in downtown Portland (the “Project”). The ECC is currently working with Portland-based real estate developer Anew Development and the architecture firm of Bild Architecture to advance the ECC Building Project.
A highly viable project site has been secured in the vicinity of 23-25 Casco Street and a preliminary Project design concept has been created. The Project concept is a 5-story, approximately 40,000 square foot building. The ground floor houses Center and retail space, approximately 20 parking spaces, and lobbies and other spaces ancillary to upper floor uses. The 2nd floor has been designed as flex office spaces to house the existing organizations of the ECC as well as other area non-profits operating in the civil rights and social justice arena. Finally, floors 3-5 will house between 27 and 30 residential apartments allowing the ECC to serve the housing needs of the communities they serve.
The total development cost of the ECC Building Project is estimated at $10MM. The ECC and Anew will finance the Project using a combination of private bank financing, owner equity raised though a community capital campaign, and private investment capital which may be enhanced by the Project being a structured as a qualified Opportunity Zone fund.
Construction is targeted to commence in the Spring of 2021 and wrap up in the Spring of 2022.