Bayside’s “Midtown” Complex Needs Tweaks, Despite Board’s Enthusiasm

Midtown architects: Sandy Silverman, PerkinsEastman; Bob Metcalf, Mitchell & Associates; Doug Smith, PerkinsEastman; Ben Walter, President, CWS Architects;
and Greg Shinberg, Shinberg Consulting.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,283)

Architects for the Federated Cos. long-anticipated mixed-used development in Bayside presented a new design and new name to the planning board last night for it’s development of 3.24 acres of land in the Bayside section of the East End of Portland from its original proposal submitted last November.

Originally called Maritime Landing, the complex is now called “Midtown” and the number of towers originally proposed has been reduced from seven towers to four buildings making it more of a horizontal complex.  The building redesign also preserves views from city hall and back cove. Because of the redesign of the buildings, the lead architects, Perkins Eastman,  asked the planning board for altered height limits in one section. That consideration will require additional study from the board, while the architects said density of the complex is necessary to make it  financially viable.  “Rents in Portland are lower than elsewhere,” said Doug Smith, Perkins Eastman.  “We need the additional height to 165 ft. because of the economics of the site,” said Sandy Silverman, Perkins Eastman.

Midtown will be built in at least two Phases which could prolong its construction over as much as eight years or so.  This prompted the architects to ask for a Master Plan as part of the agreement which would basically grandfather current zoning restrictions; attorney and out-going board member David Silk questioned the wisdom of this since no other developer in the area has such an arrangement with the city.

“It’s nice to see that Portland is ready for this kind of building.  You heard the issues and really moved quickly to address them… A  Master Plan gives everyone a chance to come out well in this complex,” said vice chair Stuart O’Brien to the assembled architects before the 3 hour meeting adjourned.