Maine Medical Center’s $512 million expansion plan could undergo a substantial change – moving the new $70 million parking garage to a different location.

Officials at the hospital in Portland’s West End said they are examining different ideas, and hope to find an alternate location for the new parking garage.

The change would occur to satisfy neighbors’ concerns that the 13-story parking garage would encroach on the neighborhood.

“It is the organization’s preference to find a plan the city and our neighbors are comfortable with,” said John Porter, a spokesman for MaineHealth, the parent company of Maine Med. “We are looking at alternatives.”

The 300,000-square-foot expansion, unveiled last fall and estimated to be completed by 2022, is pending state and local approvals.

The potential change in location for the parking garage is receiving a warm reception from neighborhood groups, said Anne Pringle, president of the Western Promenade Neighborhood Association.

She said Maine Med officials have been meeting with four neighborhood groups monthly to address their concerns with the project.

Pringle said the 13-story, 1,200-space parking garage would dominate the corner of Congress and Gilman streets, towering over nearby buildings, and may not be the right fit for the neighborhood.

“Maine Med has been very responsive to our concerns,” Pringle said. “It’s been a very open and candid process.”

She said the parking garage, which would have replaced existing Maine Med buildings on that corner, would have limited the hospital’s future options for that site.

“I think they will need that property for additional hospital operations sooner than they think,” Pringle said.

The linchpin of the expansion would be a 270,000-square-foot, glass-paneled building facing Congress Street that would house new operating and patient rooms, featuring a new main entrance. The new building would replace the 1970s-era parking garage fronting Congress Street that would be demolished.

The new 270,000-square-foot building would replace the main entrance off Bramhall Street that is accessed through a West End neighborhood.

Pringle said she believes moving the hospital’s main entrance to Congress Street will be better for patients and the neighborhood.

One of the possible locations for a parking garage is a 282-space surface parking lot that Maine Med currently leases on St. John Street. Porter said it’s one of several locations under consideration.

The expansion would add 20 operating rooms, but would not change the total number of beds.

Instead, more of the hospital’s 637 beds would be in private, single-patient rooms. All 128 of the new patient rooms in the expansion would be single-patient spaces, mirroring a nationwide trend toward more single-occupancy rooms to protect patient privacy.

The expansion would reduce the bottlenecks that result in some patients having to wait several hours for a room, because many double-occupancy rooms are sometimes temporarily converted to single-occupancy depending on the patient’s condition and other factors for patient privacy.

The new operating rooms would be more spacious and more accommodating to high-tech medical equipment.

“Everybody in these proceedings is recognizing the clinical need for the expansion,” Porter said. “Nobody is saying, ‘Why do you need to do this?’ ”


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