Gossip from November and December 2006
By Chris Busby
December 29, 2006
Pavilion for sale
Less than a year after taking over one of Portland’s premiere nightclub and banquet facilities, former banquet manager Lisa Oldakowski is selling The Pavilion.
Oldakowski took over the business from former owner Jim Albert last summer. Albert had renamed the club 188 Bourbon Street. A popular, weekly “Ladies Night” dance party held there drew City Council sanctions after police reported a high number of fights and other disturbances outside the premises. Oldakowski, who changed the name back to The Pavilion, pledged to address those issues, and seemed to be successful in that effort during her first few months at the helm.
She could not be reached for comment.
An ad in the Portland Phoenix announcing the club’s availability notes it’s for sale as a “turnkey” transfer at “favorable terms.” “Must Have Capital,” it says. “No dreamers!”
The number potential buyers are encouraged to call is Albert’s cell phone number. Reached yesterday, Albert said he has no involvement in the operation or ownership of the club, and is helping Oldakowski sell his former business as a favor, and as a way of “helping the business succeed in the future.”
Asked why Oldakowski is selling, Albert said, “it’s a very different nightclub climate in Portland” these days, “based on politics and other things.” The banquet side of the business, however, is “very, very healthy,” he added.
The Pavilion is still open pending its sale. A message on the club’s answering machine promotes a New Year’s Eve show featuring DJ Jon. Interested buyers can call Albert at 450-8391.
December 15, 2006
Waterview condo tower still a go
When news broke last week that a New York–based real estate investment company had bought the so-called Time and Temperature Building on downtown Congress Street for $13 million, some wondered whether the sale meant the seller, developer Jeffrey Cohen, was cashing in his Portland holdings and seeking other markets. In particular, observers wondered about the future of the Waterview at Bayside condominium tower Cohen has been trying unsuccessfully to construct nearby, on Cumberland Avenue, for a couple years.
Yesterday, Cohen confirmed that the project is still moving forward, despite delays caused by a lawsuit brought by the owners of neighboring Back Bay Tower and complications arising from high construction costs and other financing woes.
The suit has been settled in Cohen’s favor, and construction prices “are coming down,” Cohen said. He added that his development team has signed a letter of intent for financing, though he acknowledged such documents are no guarantee.
Regardless, Cohen said he’s “optimistic we will start construction in the spring.” The 12-story building will have 94 condos, all but one of which are two-bedroom units. The price of each condo will “probably” be between $325,000 and $500,000, Cohen said, and about 70 percent of the units are already pre-sold.
Cohen still holds title to the Monument Square building now occupied by the Public Market House, where several former tenants of the Portland Public Market have set up shop. He also owns the Gateway Garage, a parking garage across from the future site of the condo tower, where its residents will park.
Cohen said he has another Portland property under contract which he intends to develop into “office condominiums.” He said details of that development will become public early next year.
The Tree’s stunted growth
Plans to reestablish the legendary music club known as The Tree, on Danforth Street, seem to be in limbo. As The Bollard reported earlier this year, the building’s owners, Jill and Joe Cooper of Cumberland, got the necessary city licenses to open the establishment last winter, despite protests from neighbors that the club would cause problems. Plans called for a major renovation of the sagging structure, last occupied by the lesbian bar Sisters, but little work seems to have been done this year, and the building is now apparently available should another would-be club owner wish to take it over.
Joe Cooper said he hasn’t entirely given up on the prospect of reopening The Tree, but other priorities have delayed this project, and he’s open to handing it off to someone else. We’ll keep you posted.
December 8, 2006
Acoustic Coffee going electric
The new year will bring a change to Acoustic Coffee, the popular coffee and sandwich spot and live music venue on Danforth Street. Beginning Jan. 2, the business will be known as Goats Head Soup, a reference to the 1973 Rolling Stones album. Accordingly, the eatery’s menu will shift to highlight soups and stews, and owner Mike O’Connor said the venue’s musical focus will change, as well. Acoustic Coffee primarily hosted acoustic folk acts and singer-songwriters. Goats Head Soup will feature more electrified rock bands and the like.
December 5, 2006
Council committee posts cause angst
Several Portland City Councilors are miffed over the committee assignments handed out by new Mayor Nick Mavodones last Monday. In particular, some wonder why incoming councilors Dave Marshall and Kevin Donoghue have been given plum posts on such key committees as Finance and Community Development.
Actually, that’s not accurate – the councilors know why the newbies got the assignments they did: they promised to support Mavodones’ bid for the mayorship over that of preceding mayor Jim Cohen. Councilor Cheryl Leeman said as much.
“I think it’s unfortunate that Nick chose to play politics with committee assignments as opposed to doing the right thing in his role as mayor,” Leeman said. “It’s very obvious where the votes came from in his seeking a second term as mayor…. There’s some behind-the-scenes deal-making that went on.”
Mavodones, now a four-term councilor, served as mayor six years ago. As we reported last month, both he and Cohen lobbied the two new councilors shortly after last month’s election, offering choice committee assignments in exchange for political support.
As requested, Marshall was given a seat on the powerful Finance Committee, which shapes the city budget, the Appointments and Non-Union Personnel Committee, and the Public Safety Committee, which he will chair. Donoghue will chair the Transportation Committee and serve on the Housing Committee, as well as the influential Community Development Committee (CDC), just as he requested.
“I wonder when the last time a freshman councilor was seated on the CDC,” said Councilor Ed Suslovic. Suslovic – who, like Leeman, was considered a supporter of Cohen’s bid for a second consecutive term as mayor – got the same assignments he had last year. He will again serve on the Finance Committee and the Health and Human Services Committee, and chair the little-noticed Legislative Committee.
By tradition, each of the eight councilors chairs one of the eight committees and serves on three of the three-member bodies. The mayor serves as the lone Library Trustee, though Mavodones said he served on a committee last time he held the mayorship.
“I don’t think the assignments are ideal,” said Councilor Donna Carr. Dr. Carr said she’d prefer to have more-experienced councilors on “critical committees” like Finance and the CDC, neither of which she has served on in her past two years on the Council. (Carr will again chair Health and Human Services and sit on the Public Safety Committee; she was moved from the Legislative Committee to Transportation this year.)
Dr. Carr said she thinks Mavodones was “trying to throw a peace laurel to the Greens” by giving them prime posts. (Both Donoghue and Marshall are members of the Green Independent Party. Though the City Council is officially a non-partisan body, politics often plays its usual role.)
Mavodones said he favors placing new councilors on the Finance Committee, because serving on that committee gives them a good understanding of how the city works. He said he tried to place councilors in the positions they were most interested in, but acknowledged he “could have done a better job” communicating with his colleagues before making his picks.
“I talked to most of the councilors, but I’m not sure Cheryl and I connected,” he said.
Leeman’s sure she wasn’t contacted. “The real irony is, when I was mayor, the first person to approach me prior to committee assignments was Nick,” she recalled. “He said, ‘I just ask that you be fair,’ and I was. That certainly has not been reciprocated.”
In most other legislative bodies, “you start at the bottom and work your way up,” said Leeman, now serving her eighth three-year term. Mavodones’ new assignments “do just the opposite: it puts all the veteran councilors on the bottom of the rung and puts the new ones on top.” Leeman will chair the lowly Appointments committee this year, and again serve on the Legislative and Public Safety Committees.
Mavodones said he’s open to discussing the role of seniority in committee assignments, and proposed a workshop on similar inter-Council issues during his inaugural remarks earlier this week. Though Leeman called the idea of such a workshop “hypocritical” given the assignments he just handed down, she added, “regardless of all of this, I look forward to working with the new newly elected members and the newly elected mayor.”
For their part, both Marshall and Donoghue were satisfied with both their assignments and the appointment process.
Cohen will chair the Finance Committee this year, and serve on the Health and Transportation committees. Three-term Councilor Jim Cloutier, a political ally of Mavodones’, will again chair the CDC and serve on the Housing Committee. He was moved from Finance to Transportation this year.
November 29, 2006
Another dance for Disco Willy?
No sooner had the votes been tallied in this month’s election than talk began about next year’s races for Portland City Council seats. The at-large seats held by Jim Cloutier and Jill Duson will be contested next year, as will the seat representing District 3 (Rosemont, Stroudwater, Deering Highlands and Sagamore Village) currently held by Dr. Donna Carr.
City Councilor Will Gorham lost his District 1 (East End, Bayside, downtown and islands) seat to Kevin Donoghue this year, but he’s itching to get back on the Council, and will run if either Duson or Cloutier calls it quits after six and nine years, respectively, of Council service. Former Planning Board member John Anton is also mulling an at-large run.
Shawn Loura – the “Monument Square Peace Guy” turned Maine militia member – has declared interest in making another at-large run after a forthcoming campaign to close the Preble Street Resource Center (he calls it a dangerous place with redundant services). Three years ago, Loura finished fifth in a five-way race for the two at-large seats held by Cloutier and Duson, attracting just under 10 percent of the vote.
Local Greens are gunning to unseat Carr, and say they’ve got a promising candidate to do just that – though this candidate apparently doesn’t know it yet. In contrast to Cloutier and Duson, Carr’s tenure on the Council has been unremarkable thus far, aside from her recent swing vote on limiting formula businesses (a measure being called the “Carr Ordinance” by its growing mob of critics, some of whom are threatening a “people’s veto” of the new law). It’s unclear whether Carr will seek a second term, as she also recently passed up a chance to be mayor, citing work commitments at her day job at UnumProvident.
Early speculation marked John Eder as a potential Council candidate, but Eder has dismissed that notion. And there’ll surely be calls for Cyrus Hagge to make another Council run after his defeat in a late effort to win in District 2 (the West End and Parkside). Hagge did not return a call made earlier today seeking comment on an ’07 run – a sure sign he’s thinking it over (or not).
Too cocky to rock
Lest we waste more time on the cancelled Guns N’ Roses show at the Civic Center, let’s put this sick puppy to bed today. Informed sources tell The Bollard that Axl Rose, who travels separately from the rest of the band since his ego can’t fit inside a luxury tour bus, never got on the plane to travel from New Jersey to Portland that evening because only about half of the tickets available for the show had been sold. After screwing over the 3,000-plus people willing to see his rehashed crap, it’s safe to conclude Rose will never play southern Maine again.
November 7, 2006
Too DRY to rock?
Guns N’ Roses’ Monday, Nov. 6, performance at the Cumberland County Civic Center was apparently cancelled by the band after Axl Rose and his new bandmates were told by state fire inspectors that they couldn’t have alcohol on stage. State fire officials have not responded to The Bollard‘s request for comment, but this reason is now being reported by local TV stations and other sources as the sticking point.
According to a press release issued by the band’s management and posted on their record label’s Web site last tonight, the show was cancelled “due to limitations imposed by local fire marshals” – in this case, state fire inspectors Nelson Collins and Bob Cadigan.
The release quotes a band spokesperson as saying the state inspectors “made it impossible for the band to perform their show to the usual high standards that their fans deserve.”
GN’R’s production manager and crew are said to have alleged that when they worked with Clay Aiken and Green Day at the Civic Center, the restrictions being placed on GN’R were not in force. “It is our opinion that they are going out of their way to target and single out GUNS N’ ROSES and the band’s loyal fans,” the release reads.
Ticket sales figures show that only about 3,400 of GN’R’s “loyal fans” shelled out between $45 and $65 to see the reincarnated rock act. The venue had room for roughly 6,500 fans.
Civic Center general manager Steve Crane said Tuesday morning that he and his crew “did everything from my end, technically, from a professional level, to get everything from the building to the stage ready for them.” Crane had no take on the discussions between the band’s management and fire inspectors, but noted they took place and “the outcome of that dialogue apparently was not good.”
Crane refuted the idea there are different safety standards for different performers, noting that he’s overseen over 500 concerts at the Civic Center, and never had a cancellation for this reason.
Tickets for the Nov. 6 show can be exchanged for tickets to the band’s show this Wednesday at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., the release said, adding that refunds will also be available where the ticket was bought.