Portsmouth development battle

Smuttynose

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Thanks to its coastal location, historic charm, and some perhaps too fawning press -
'Portsmouth is Perfect' Chicago Tribune http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-11/travel/sc-trav-0611-portsmouth-new-hampshire-20130611_1_portsmouth-town-square-n-h - Portsmouth is enjoying a bit of a real estate boom.

Residential building booming in downtown
http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20130404-NEWS-304040407

Developer Hopes to Extend Downtown
http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/northern-tier-project-takes-shape



But this has spawned a backlash. An organization called 'Portsmouth Now!' (www.portsmouthnow.org) has formed, arguing that new development threatens the city's unique historic character. The organization first called for a moratorium on all new development, and absent that, a 35-foot height limit on new buildings in the downtown area.

Residents Wage War on New Development
http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/portsmouth-residents-wage-war-on-new-development

Portsmouth Officials to Review Development Ban
http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/portsmouth-officials-to-review-development-ban

Building Height Limit for Downtown?
http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/building-height-limit-for-downtown-portsmouth

The Portsmouth City Council rejected those proposals, but the organization is clearly having some impact. A few projects were rejected, while others, like this project on Wright Ave. was scaled down from this



to this --



Portsmouth Now objected to the styling of the building, arguing it was "more Paris than Portsmouth." The organization also objected to the scaled down version of the project, arguing that the structure's mansard roof conflicted with the city's federalist style of architecture.

The organization's critics charge that strictly curbing new development will increase residential prices and encourage sprawl patterns of development in outlying areas.

Portsmouth is currently working on a form-based code to insure more contextual development, but debate regarding the future of the city continues.
 

SHAZBAT73

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I thought Portsmouth already had a height limit. I know before 'PortsmouthNow!' the city had and probably still has a very active historical / landmark preservation group that worked with the city to scale down a few projects (Like the Sheraton Hotel). I can't see anything over 8 stories being built there anytime soon. Checked your thread on SKYCOM too. Great updates!
 

Ron Newman

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35 feet is a really low height limit, and I can't imagine it's really justified by historical development.
 

FrankLloydMike

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Thanks to its coastal location, historic charm, and some perhaps too fawning press -
'Portsmouth is Perfect' Chicago Tribune http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-11/travel/sc-trav-0611-portsmouth-new-hampshire-20130611_1_portsmouth-town-square-n-h - Portsmouth is enjoying a bit of a real estate boom.

Residential building booming in downtown
http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20130404-NEWS-304040407

Developer Hopes to Extend Downtown
http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/northern-tier-project-takes-shape



But this has spawned a backlash. An organization called 'Portsmouth Now!' (www.portsmouthnow.org) has formed, arguing that new development threatens the city's unique historic character. The organization first called for a moratorium on all new development, and absent that, a 35-foot height limit on new buildings in the downtown area.

Residents Wage War on New Development
http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/portsmouth-residents-wage-war-on-new-development

Portsmouth Officials to Review Development Ban
http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/portsmouth-officials-to-review-development-ban

Building Height Limit for Downtown?
http://portsmouth-nh.patch.com/articles/building-height-limit-for-downtown-portsmouth

The Portsmouth City Council rejected those proposals, but the organization is clearly having some impact. A few projects were rejected, while others, like this project on Wright Ave. was scaled down from this



to this --



Portsmouth Now objected to the styling of the building, arguing it was "more Paris than Portsmouth." The organization also objected to the scaled down version of the project, arguing that the structure's mansard roof conflicted with the city's federalist style of architecture.

The organization's critics charge that strictly curbing new development will increase residential prices and encourage sprawl patterns of development in outlying areas.

Portsmouth is currently working on a form-based code to insure more contextual development, but debate regarding the future of the city continues.
I want to comment more on this later, but just wanted to point out that the scaled down design (which from a purely aesthetic point-of-view, I personally prefer) would hardly be the only mansard-roofed building in downtown Portsmouth. There is a very prominent building right on Congress Street in the heart of Market Square featuring a mansard roof. That alone makes me question the credibility of this group.
 

PortlandArch

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From what I hear, Portsmouth has as many subsidized projects as Rochester/Dover but you never see them as a visitor.

Nice city though.
 

PortlandArch

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Also, regarding the architect's comment about why developers are building rentals not condos, it may have to do with attracting younger and older occupants, but more likely that is just an incidental benefit -- and, those groups are already attracted to intown living. The real reason is probably related to financing; banks will loan for large apartments, not large condo buildings. That change emerged a few years ago, making financing of condo projects so hard that many switched to apartments.
 

Jouhou

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I know, old thread. But update on portsmouth NIMBYs: so apparently these people aren't even from our city and keep using lawsuits to delay developments for decades. How is this fair? Why can't the city pursue damages from them? Wtf is this happening elsewhere too? Neighborhood opposition from other cities?

Aka portsmouth now has zero to a few actual portsmouth residents.
 

Jouhou

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From what I hear, Portsmouth has as many subsidized projects as Rochester/Dover but you never see them as a visitor.

Nice city though.
Since I already revived this old thread, the public housing here is actually very prominent downtown, and are probably the largest residential structures here. We're like boston, we take care of the very poor and very rich but everyone in between is SOL. Adding to that our north end got urban renewal bulldozed like Boston's west end, and the NIMBYs keep fighting to protect the cheap single story buildings and vast expanses of parking lots and "open space" just the same. Difference is I think Boston's NIMBYs are local, not driving in to protest from Lexington.

Also responding to NIMBYs protesting second empire styling in portsmouth, I live in a second empire building in the historic district. It's actually a very early example of second empire architecture, and looks solidly out of Paris. These people don't know what they are even complaining about.
 

Jouhou

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Has there been any talk about the former State Street Saloon site (burned down April 10th)? Are they going to keep or tear down the 4 story brick building next door?

http://www.wmtw.com/article/building-collapses-in-overnight-fire-in-portsmouth-nh/9253899
Everyone is saying it has to be torn down, but seeing all the facades preserved in Boston, I think it's entirely possible that if they cough up the money they can gut the building, even tear down the two blank party Walls, and keep the attractive parts of the building.

Btw I live a couple of blocks down the street from there. I woke up that night because *my* apartment was full of smoke and I panicked thinking my building was on fire.

The saloons remains still smell awful too.

Edit: and for people who are unfamiliar with the building in question, it's an old school brick building supported by the masonry itself, so while the roof and insides collapsed, all four walls are still in tact. I don't think it could be rebuilt with the walls still carrying the weight though, it was exposed to a great deal of heat and there are cracks in the walls. But I'd be sad if they didn't save the 2 walls facing the street. The bricks, granite, and windows are really nice and new buildings never cough up the money for those kinds of details these days.
 
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