Growing pains

By SARA DONNELLY  |  January 25, 2006

Hanson will soon turn the Industry into “Right Proper Charlie’s,” a British pub-style restaurant. Hanson, who since 1993 has run the only continuously operating nightspot for the 18-plus crowd in the city, is going with the flow.

“The reason there are less bars is there’s a change of economic conditions down here,” Hanson says. “Natural market forces are at work.”

Steve Baumann is natural market forces incarnate. As he fumbles with a sticky lock on the door to 35 Wharf Street, he addresses whether a boutique would be interested in the spot.

“There has to be a bridge to indicate there’s changes now, that Wharf Street can attract more retailers,” he says. “But it can’t do it now. A retailer doesn’t want to be in the midst of an entertainment district.”

Baumann finally catches the lock and pulls the key out. He walks slowly down Wharf Street toward Union, past the iconic cartoon IguaHIT THE ROAD Closing time at the Oasis.na sign which bar owner Tom Manning has agreed to change to better fit what Baumann calls “the historic district.”

“It’s just the Iguana and Oasis, that’s it [on Wharf Street],” he says. “And that’s a pretty good mix; you can only do so much.”

Baumann, 34, understands — in his younger years, he owned the Pavilion nightclub on Middle Street, now called 188 Bourbon Street. It was a fun time, but these days Baumann has a family and the future of high-end Portland real estate on his mind. He doesn’t party in the Old Port anymore, and he doesn’t seem to miss doing so. Changing the neighborhood is his drink of choice.

___

Email the author:

Sara Donnelly: sdonnelly@phx.com 

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Scenes from Old Port. By Jeff Inglis and Sara Donelly.

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