Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

TC_zoid

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I mean, I wish it weren't the case, but affordable housing developers literally can't finance a 15-story building with current subsidies. There's a reason Franklin Towers was the last thing built for 40 years, and that reason was a huge decline in federal funding for public housing that started under the Nixon administration and continued under Reagan.

As I mentioned, the tax credits that finance affordable housing are limited (in Maine) to about $25-30 million a year, which typically get spread around to 5 or 6 projects a year.

58 Boyd, for instance, is an $11 million project and is relying on tax credits to cover $6.8 million of the costs (see page 27 for the breakdown):
https://www.portlandmaine.gov/DocumentCenter/View/18329/Order-102-1718

A taller, $20 million affordable housing project would not pencil out in the State of Maine, at least with our current financing resources.
All, good points. But where there is a will, there is a way. The problem is, there is none (a will).
 

mainejeff

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Interesting design choice. Personally I find the ornamental elements to be a bit too much. Also, from the renderings, it looks like they'll be using some sort of metal cladding for the majority of the exterior, which tends to look cheap once completed. But this project has a good scale for the neighborhood that it's in. Glad to see something happening around the desolate void between city hall and Franklin
Yeah....the "art deco" seems forced and out of place. The metal cladding is becoming the "new brick" in Portland. :s
 

PortlandArch

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Interesting design for a proposed new flophouse on Cumberland Ave. The architect says they were encouraged to think "Art Deco," which I can see in the ornamental design in the center of the building. The application says the ground floor will be reserved for retail.





Thanks for the update.

"Encouraged to think Art Deco ..."

That sentence is more than mildly annoying, because the City's design team colors way outside the lines when it comes to "encouraging" things. It's really code language for do this because we, as unelected admins, want the City to look our way.

Unless, of course, it was the developer from whom the encouragement came, in which case I retract the above. That neighborhood, in either case, does seem to be filling in with a lot of the same aesthetic. So this should fit right in.
 

PortlandArch

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Last week's historic preservation board meeting packet also included some new renderings of the "Portland Square" master plan...
https://portlandme.civicclerk.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?ad=2789



Maybe I woke up in a cranky mood today so sorry to continue the complaining trend but the bottom half (southside) of the Portland Square proposal looks absolutely hideous...like a cheap garden style apartment complex that's destined to become rundown before it stabilizes ... what are they thinking?

Form a bird's eye view this proposal reminds me of the Burlington Town Square / Center redevelopment proposal, a mixed-use retail and housing / offices project now under construction. I'm not sure if the new Burlington project (which is replacing an older shopping mall in the heart of the City) will have the same type of national chain retail stores, but I wonder why Portland can't seem to pull that off in its own downtown. I know there are a lot of people who don't want it to, but even if that changed I have a hard time believing chain stores would make it here ... and it's not just a parking and land economics thing ... Charleston, SC, which is like Portland with Palm Trees, has plenty of chain stores downtown (mostly upscale) and they as well as their local counterparts all seem to thrive in coexistence.
 

PortlandArch

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I hear you, but to be clear this particular proposal is not a public housing proposal. My understanding is it's a private developer proposing 'affordable' housing with multiple units sharing a bathroom. It sounds like a dormitory to me.

Let's not forget that the planning board approved Federated's proposal to build four 15-story buildings that would have added over 800 market rate apartments to the city, but the project was basically squashed by a couple activist residents opposed to the heights.
You're both right. But on a side note I can't understand how someone thinks it's a good idea to propose this type of housing when there's literally a simultaneously pending PB application to convert the bayside student housing project back to a more traditional apartment layout (moving away from this crazy idea of a shared bathroom (yuk))
 

PortlandArch

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6 story buildings are the most cost-effective and financially realistic to build for affordable housing developers. Any higher and you'd need much more expensive steel-framed construction.

There might be economies of scale with a 15-story tower, but because Maine is a small state, the tax credits that finance these projects aren't big enough to bankroll such a large building.

Market-rate developers are the best bet for adding more housing in taller buildings. But for them, zoning and NIMBYism are the limiting factors. Only a few vacant parcels are zoned for taller buildings and as a result the land prices for those are generally too high to finance housing, so we get high-rise offices, which pay higher rents, instead.

Anyway, there's still plenty of land available for 6-story buildings. The PHA estimates that they could eventually build 650 net new apartments in East Bayside alone with existing zoning:
http://utiledesign.com/work/portland-housing-authority-strategic-vision-plan/

(with 58 Boyd now under construction, they're on track to add 100 new apartments to the neighborhood in a 3-year period)
Well said...
 

Portlander

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Burlington's CityPlace project has stalled due to lack of financing and other issues that have not been resolved between the developer and the city. It's currently nothing but a large vacant lot and it looks like if it does eventually move forward the two 14 story towers will be scaled back along with a total project redesign. The crane has been removed off the site along with the promotional billboards and I don't think the foundation was ever started.
 
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PortlandArch

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Burlington's CityPlace project has stalled due to lack of financing and other issues that have not been resolved between the developer and the city. It's currently nothing but a large vacant lot and it looks like if it does eventually move forward the two 14 story towers will be scaled back along with a total project redesign. The crane has been removed off the site along with the promotional billboards and I don't think the foundation was ever started.
Yikes ... I was in Burlington two weekends ago and was surprised at how little progress had been made, because it looked exactly as you described ... so that makes more sense now. That's gonna be a tough one to have blend in. It's half the downtown.
 

Max

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Unless, of course, it was the developer from whom the encouragement came, in which case I retract the above.
It was in fact the developer who asked the architect to think "with a reference to Art Deco design while using contemporary materials."
 

PWMFlyer

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I wish someone would develop the block where Brian Boru's is. I could remember several plans were in place including demo the Rivalries building before it was redone. It would look nice if they shut down the one way street, turn it into pedestrian street and infill the dirt lots with similar buildings of scale--beer gardens? breweries? There was a building at the corner of center and spring that had a dinosaur on the top? Portland used to have a Natural History Museum at one time...
 

Cosakita18

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Interestingly, it looks like the area of the future office building at Portland Foreside (58 Fore St) is cleared, leveled, fenced off, and ready to build. Did the office building site plan slip through the planning process without me noticing??
 
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Max

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Interestingly, it looks like the area of the future office building at Portland Foreside (58 Fore St) is cleared, leveled, fenced off, and ready to build. Did the office building site plan slip through the planning process without me noticing??
My recollection is that their Master Development Plan was approved but not the Level III site plans required to build. That said, there is a lot of activity going on down there. I think much of it is related to the demolition of non-contributing structures and of Building 12, which they're required to rebuild in a different spot and which there has been some discussion of in the press recently.

I will say I was surprised and disappointed to round the eastern prom trail a few weeks ago to see that several new telephone poles and a bunch of overhead wires had gone up seemingly overnight. It appears this new infrastructure exists to supply power to the new marina, but I don't recall reading anything about new poles and wires in the application materials. It's unbelievable that this infrastructure couldn't go underground. They've really diminished the viewshed down there with this stuff. This portends badly for the rest of the development in my view.

 

Max

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I was watching the recording of yesterday's Planning Board hearing (I know, I need to get a life) and during the discussion of the updated MDP for Portland Square there were a few new renderings shown on the screen. I grabbed one that seemed kind of interesting -- this is the view looking southwest on Spring Street, with the existing One Portland Square at the left:



This appears to show a largely glass wall going up from about the 3rd floor to about the 9th or 10th floor, ostensibly office space.

There was some discussion during the hearing of the phasing of this development. In this "upper" portion between Fore and Spring Streets, the initial phase would essentially just be the parking garage, which would go up about 5 stories. If and when the next phase happens, the additional 5-6 stories of office space would be built on top of the garage.

It sounds like there are a lot of moving pieces with this proposal, with a central challenge being that the 1000+ parking spaces need to be built first, and then the rest goes up around / on top of the parking.
 

Cosakita18

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I will say I was surprised and disappointed to round the eastern prom trail a few weeks ago to see that several new telephone poles and a bunch of overhead wires had gone up seemingly overnight. It appears this new infrastructure exists to supply power to the new marina, but I don't recall reading anything about new poles and wires in the application materials. It's unbelievable that this infrastructure couldn't go underground. They've really diminished the viewshed down there with this stuff. This portends badly for the rest of the development in my view.


I completely agree, I really hope they are temporary, but I'm amazed those utilities were approved in the first place, they really diminish the look of the area.

I'm also concerned about the landward side of the new Marina and how it relates to the eastern Prom trail. Right now the trail is fenced of in a very unattractive way, and the marina infrastructure looks very temporary and tacky.
 

Portlander

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Concerning the Portland Square project. The city should require the developers to at least commit to the office floors above the portion of the garage that fronts on Spring Street. Though it's an improvement over the vacant lot that has been there for many decades, a 1000 car parking garage by itself would be disappointing in my opinion.
 

PWMFlyer

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From Portland Food Map:
Developers of the 58 Fore https://www.58fore.com, the former Portland Company Complex, have announced plans to incorporate a Food Hall featuring up to 30 “local restaurateurs, food entrepreneurs and purveyors offering prepared and specialty foods, produce, meats, seafood and drinks” into their plans for the mixed use complex.

While thriving public markets are becoming common in cities throughout the country, Portland does not currently have a large-scale market focused on the culinary experience. “The market hall will continue the historic function of these buildings as places where Maine people make high quality products. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries it was railroad engines and ship boilers; today it’s great food and drink,” said Kevin Costello, partner in Portland Foreside Development Company.

Joining 58 Fore will be Evo Kitchen + Bar (website, instagram, facebook, twitter) which is slated to move from it’s current location at the corner of Union and Fore to occupy the Pattern Storehouse, the iconic 1895 building (pictured above). The new Evo will double in size to become a 100-seat restaurant.

58 Fore is taking the unusual step of disassembling and then reconstructing the Pattern Storehouse in order to preserve it while moving it to closer to the waterfront.

Evo is owned operated by the Prentice Hospitality Group, and Casey Prentice is a principal in 58 Fore.
 

PWMFlyer

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From Portland Food Map...
A new restaurant called Helm (website, instagram, facebook) is under construction in a 3,000 sq ft space located on the first floor of the new WEX building on Thames Street.

The menu at the oyster bar and bistro will be “an ode to the coast. Expect oysters, seafood, meat, and produce all from our local Maine farmers and fishermen” with a bar program that “focuses on natural, biodynamic, and organic wines as well as a rotating Maine brewery draft selection, and classic cocktails”. The restaurant will include a private dining room to host events and a courtyard that will seat up to 30.

Owner Elizabeth Legere and General Manager James Rose hope to open Helm in December. They shared that they’re excited to contribute to the restaurant scene in Portland and see a lot of opportunity in the developing neighborhood where the restaurant is located.
 

Max

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The street-level windows on the eternally-under renovation Schwartz Building at the corner of High and Congress Streets were recently covered with ads for something called Lenny Doon. I thought -- progress! Something's happening!

I just looked up their website and it appears that one of the highest-visibility intersections in the city will be graced with a CBD shop... ugh.

https://www.lennydoon.com/

I sincerely hope there are bigger and better things planned for this building. The glacially slow progress on rehabilitation of this building is the biggest disappointment in downtown development, in my opinion. It has the potential to be a vibrant, thriving structure with commercial on the ground level and residences above. I'm so bummed to see a friggin' CBD shop going in there.
 

Portlander

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I feel your disappointment Max. Another eccentric owner (also Trelawny Building) who puts little or no effort into maintaining his holdings.
 

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