By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,570)
This evening the Portland city council unanimously approved a historic designation for the redevelopment of 58 Fore Street by CPB2, managed by Jim Brady. The approval was based on a recommendation from the city’s planning board. Most significantly the approval permits Brady to demolish Building 1 and in return gives the city a 50 ft. easement over the same building footprint. Brady later said that a groundbreaking could come in 2017.
The other option that the Council discussed and rejected was a recommendation by the Historic Preservation Board of which Deb Andrews is the director. That option asked the Council to categorize Building 1 as a “contributing” factor to the historic district which would have required the developer to keep the building in tact, despite its minimal historical significance and its decrepit condition. The removal of Building One will enhance public
access and the iconic view that opponents of the project have clamored for throughout their attempted smear campaign of the proposed redevelopment of 58 Fore Street.
Pivotal to the debate is the narrow and limited purview of the HP Board in such matters. On the other hand, the Planning Board not only considers the historical significance of the property, but how it fits into the Comprehensive Plan according to Mary Costigan, attorney for CPB2.
An amendment proposed by District 1 City Councilor Belinda Ray that called for the preservation of Building 1 and the historic district recommended by the planning board was defeated by a vote of 7-2. Figurehead Strimling voted in favor of Ray’s amendment. Following the meeting, he acknowledged that it was a decision based on “emotion” for him. It was based on a lingering memory from when he was fourteen years old and living in New York City. Hmmm.
“What we ought to do is celebrate that someone as talented as Jim Brady has stepped forward to preserve 7 buildings of the Portland Co. complex. Those buildings will tell the story. It’s easy for us to tell a property owner how to spend his money. We have very few opportunities for economic development and we can’t let them get away. The city needs money for schools and sidewalks and so much more,” said David Brennerman, chair of the Economic Development Committee.
Please visit previous post herein for more background information.