While backers of the plan say it will create thousands of jobs and draw tourists, opponents say it will spoil the area's beaches and impede boaters using a nearby marina.
The plan is designed to bring more people down to the waterfront.
Planners say the redevelopment would diversify a maritime economy dominated by the shipping industry that has been hit hard by the recession.
Many area business owners welcome the anticipated revenue and hope to draw big crowds with the massive development plan.
The bulk of the financing for it would come from port revenue and other public funds, with private investors footing the rest of the bill.