The owners of the Eastland Park Hotel are asking the city for permission to build a ballroom on Congress Square Plaza as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation and expansion of the 85-year-old hotel.
The ballroom would take up nearly all of the public park. Advocates for the homeless and many residents of the neighborhood said the city should improve the park rather than sell it to developers.
The city established Congress Square Plaza in 1981, after a Dunkin' Donuts shop at the site was torn down. The plaza has never been popular. In his blog about architecture and town planning, Portland architect Michael Belleau describes the plaza as a "sunken, empty, tar-covered space often filled with vagrants."