Portland Campus Development Project

Frequently Asked Questions

An architectural rendering of the dining area in the new Career & Student Success Center at the University of Southern Maine.A rendering of the future Career & Student Success Center dining hall.

The Portland Campus Development Project supports the continued growth of the University of Southern Maine (USM) while advancing our commitment to sustainability. Our new heart of campus will feature:

We invite you to browse the FAQs below to learn more. If you don't see an answer to your question, please contact us.

What are Passive House standards?

  • Passive House is a very strict green building standard that prioritizes energy reductions and high indoor air quality. All else being equal, it is usually a more difficult standard to achieve than LEED. 
    The Portland Commons Residence Hall is on track to be one of the five largest Passive House residence halls in the United States, making this project a national model of sustainability. 

What are LEED standards?

  • LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) is a national certification system that ranks buildings on their levels of energy and resource efficiency. Our new Career & Student Success Center will be built to LEED standards and will utilize resources efficiently, from initial construction to ongoing maintenance and operation.

I saw the beautiful stairway of the Career & Student Success Center, but am wondering about accessibility for those who are unable to walk upstairs. Will there be another way to access the second and third floors?

  • Yes, there will be elevators from the first floor that will take you up to the second and third floors.

After being relocated to the Career & Student Support Center, how will services offered by the Career & Employment Hub change?

  • A centralized robust space will allow us to offer more interactions with employers and expand upon what we currently offer our students and Alumni.
  • We will offer a variety of career-readiness services, including small-group and one-on-one appointments with Career Advisors as well as workshops such as mock interviews, resume writing, networking strategies, salary negotiations, and many more.
  • Learn more about the Career & Employment Hub.

I will graduate before the new Career & Student Support Center is open. Will I miss out on services offered by the Career & Employment Hub?

  • Our team is ready to provide career support to you today! And our support doesn’t end at graduation — University alumni are also eligible for services offered by the Career & Employment Hub

As an employer, will I be able to come to the Career & Student Support Center to recruit students in person?

  • Yes! The Center will offer private interview rooms for employers to meet with students on campus.

What is the Multi-Purpose Room in the Career & Student Support Center going to be used for?

  • Our vision for this space is to hold a wide range of events from small-to-large; everything from job fairs to panel discussions and workshops. The room will be designed to hold one large event or to be divided into three smaller spaces.

Which students will live in the Portland Commons Residence Hall?

  • The new Portland Commons will offer 580 beds for:
    • Second-, third-, and fourth-year USM undergraduate students
    • USM graduate students
    • Maine Law students
    • Residential staff

Will the Portland Commons Residence Hall feature single-occupancy residence hall rooms or suites for multiple students?

  • There will be a mix of single-occupancy rooms, studio apartments, and larger apartments with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms.

Will there still be residence halls on the Gorham campus?

  • Yes. Our first-year undergraduate students will continue to reside in Gorham, and second-, third-, and fourth-year students may also continue to reside in Gorham if they choose.
  • Residency demand on our Gorham campus has increased in recent years. A 2018 market analysis by the consulting firm Brailsford & Dunleavy demonstrated that the University could add 550-600 beds on our Portland campus without affecting demand for housing on the Gorham campus.
  • An additional market demand study was completed in December 2020 by Brailsford & Dunleavy which reconfirmed the demand.

I heard there was a Husky Dining Room on the second floor of the Career & Student Support Center. Will students be able to use it?

  • Yes; we plan for students, faculty, and staff to be able to bring their meals up to the Husky Dining Room whenever it’s not booked for a formal event.

With the Bedford Street parking lot being transformed into the Residential Quad, where will students, staff, and faculty find additional parking?

  • We will lose parking in certain lots and gain it in others over the course of the project. Our plan accounts for these changes. We have surveyed our excess supply of campus parking during peak hours. Upon project completion, the goal is to maintain the current numbers of excess parking during peak hours.

Do you have enough parking on campus during the construction period? 

  • We will have enough parking to meet the anticipated demand. If parking is in short supply at some stages of construction, we will exercise strategies such as staggering the course schedule and additional options we have at our disposal.

Where will the students living in the new Portland Commons Residence Hall park? 

  • They will primarily park in the new parking garage. 

How much new traffic will the new residence hall bring to campus? 

  • The development of a new residence hall is actually anticipated to decrease the peak traffic demands. This is because students who previously commuted to campus will be able to travel to class on foot or by bike.
  • If students living in the residence hall choose to keep a car on campus, it is expected that they will be driving to and from campus during off-peak traffic hours, such as weekends.

How much new traffic will the new Career & Student Success Center bring to campus? 

  • The Career & Student Success Center is a campus hub and amenity for existing students. As such, it will not tend to generate much outside traffic. Student trips to the facility will typically occur when students are already on campus for classes. There may be occasional special events that generate traffic but there is not anticipated to be a reoccurring trip demand to the facility from off-campus.

How will you determine where to build the new structured parking facility?

  • Acknowledging that parking is in demand on our Portland campus and in the City of Portland, we are engaging in conversations with our students, our community neighbors, and the City to understand the needs of all stakeholders involved.
  • The University is working with Desman Design Management of Boston to conduct a site evaluation of possible locations to add a structured parking facility on campus. The evaluation is incorporating user needs, technical limitations, potential future uses for each site, and impacts on operations and people near each site. Additionally, we have surveyed our supply of campus parking to determine supply and demand, and to identify a peak hour. 
  • Our objective is to provide the number of parking spaces needed to accommodate the University community at peak times without generating an oversupply.

How much new traffic will the parking garage bring to campus?  

  • The garage itself is not anticipated to generate new traffic. Trips to the parking garage would be generated by the development of new on-campus destinations or increasing enrollment. Our anticipated enrollment increase by 2027 would generate additional trips to campus — a little more than 100 new peak-hour vehicle trips.  

How much of an impact does the University have on street parking in the area? 

  • While some University students, staff, and faculty do park on adjacent public streets, more than one third of the public parking spaces on streets bordering campus are available during the University’s peak parking demand times, according to surveying done between the hours of 12:30-1:30 on Monday-Wednesday, both before and during the COVID pandemic.

How will the construction impact parking in the neighborhoods surrounding campus? 

  • We will actively manage demand by using campus parking lots to ensure that our University community does not utilize additional street parking spaces in the surrounding neighborhoods. 
  • The companies working at the construction sites will offer shuttles to transport their employees to campus, rather than using campus parking lots.

Where are the construction companies’ staff going to park? 

  • The companies working at the construction sites will offer shuttles to transport their employees from an off-campus satellite lot to campus, rather than using campus parking lots.
  • Some construction company staff will park within the construction site.

Will there be construction vehicles parked in the neighborhoods bordering campus? 

  • We don’t anticipate construction vehicles will be parked in the neighborhood. The construction company plan includes offsite parking for workers and clauses in subcontracts stating that parking is not permitted on surrounding residential streets. 

How does the Brighton Ave./Deering Ave./Falmouth St. Roundabout Project affect your parking numbers? 

  • The Roundabout Project permanently removes the use of the University’s surface parking lot on Brighton Ave.
  • Please note that the Brighton Ave./Deering Ave./Falmouth St. Roundabout Project is a City of Portland project and not a University project. 

Is the University pursuing the closure of the portion of Bedford Street that runs through campus? 

  • No, the University is pursuing the closure of any portion of Bedford Street. 
  • Please note that the roundabout project is a City of Portland project and not a University project. 

What are your plans for reducing parking demand?

  • Our plan reducing vehicle trips and parking demand is detailed in the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, which was submitted to the City of Portland in March of 2020. Available for public record and currently in a revision process, the plan includes initiatives for walking, biking, carpooling, bus trips, and more. 
  • In addition, the University has a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation by 20% by the year 2025. It is part of our goal to be a carbon-neutral University by the year 2040. 

How will you monitor progress on this transportation plan and parking issues? 

  • We will conduct annual surveys of:
    • campus parking spots
    • our campus population’s transportation patterns and behaviors as well as their responses to barriers and incentives.
  • These data will be reported to the City of Portland annually as part of our Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan.