Bayside Housing Project Height Change Gets OK from City

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,402)

“This is exactly the project we’ve been waiting for.  It has a substantial housing component.  It will take the pressure off the housing rental market….we are lagging behind in providing housing and this will help,” said Councilor Kevin Donoghue at last night’s city council meeting  on whether or not to approve Federated Co.’s petition to lift height restrictions on its proposed project – “Midtown.”   The council voted unanimously to grant the request that will permit the construction of four 165 ft. towers in the Bayside section of Portland.  City councilor John Anton was not present.

Although there had been opposition to the height change, little of it showed up last night at the city council meeeting.  There were twice as many testifying in favor of the height change as there were testfying against it.  Tom Manning,  owner of Miss Portland Diner said:  “How can we not provide housing?  It will improve the tax base and help move the vision of Bayside forward.”  Tim Paradis called it:  “bloated and car driven.  It would not be accepted in any other neighborhood.  It’s a short-sighted vision and will debase the attractiveness of the area.  Why not mid-size buildings?”  Because of the past industrial use of the 3.25 acres on Somerset Street, the developer needs to build up to 165 ft. in order to make the long-term project finanially viable he said.

The first phase of the entire project would have almost 200 market-rate apartments and a parking garage for about 700 vehicles, as well as  ground floor retail space.  Several local businesses in the area testified in favor of the height changes that would bring more customers and parking to the area.  “We’ve have some good community support,” said Greg Shinberg, of Shinberg Consulting and a local consultant for  the project.

Mayor Michael Brennan said:  “The one thing we have to pay close attention to is to make sure the architects renderings we see tonight do come to life.”

The project will now go before the planning board for site plan approval on  May 14th.