By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,680)
“Where is the developer? Why isn’t he here?” asked Ned Chester, a Board member of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization of the two members of a Development Team that presented preliminary plans for the construction of condominium units at 155 Sheridan Street on Munjoy Hill. It’s SO preliminary that the two members of the Development Team didn’t know whether the 22,000 sq. ft. of property with a house on it, has been sold to the developer – Bernie Saulnier of Saco. And he wasn’t at the MHNO meeting to fill in the details. (Another no-show was the Figurehead Mayor Ethan Strimling, who did not appear at the MHNO meeting where he was scheduled to be the key-note speaker.)
Will Savage, an engineer and Ryan Sanatore an architect told the MHNO board that the proposed project is a 34-unit residential urban infill condominium complex to be built on a terraced slope. The exterior of the market-rate building will be of cedar shingle and cement fiber – no brick will be used in the construction. About two-thirds of the building will be two-bedroom units and the other one-third one-bedroom units. There are no waivers contemplated at this time. The design of the complex is about 60% complete according to Savage, accounting for the lack of detail in the presentation.
The proposed building is six stories high which would partially obscure the view of the city from Fort Sumner Park – a popular hangout on the Hill. At the MHNO monthly meeting on Monday, Karen Snyder, was particularly upset by the potential loss of some of the view. She warned Savage and Sanatore that there is a scenic protection ordinance in place in Portland. However, that is not true. The proposed ordinance was defeated in a landslide by Portland voters last year. Barbara Vestal, one of the leaders of the effort to stop the 58 Fore Street redevelopment by CPB2, wrote the ordinance which lost on the Hill as well.
Architect Santore, who has been the preferred architect for Redfern Properties in the past, said he believes that this is the first project of this developer in the area, although he has worked for him on residential projects in the Saco area.
“We are bringing this to you tonight to get in front of this. We want to get your feedback tonight,” said Will Savage of Acorn Engineering. He said that when the project is further along in design, the two might return to the MHNO for an update.
Following the MHNO meeting, Jay Norris, President, emailed mhn.com that the group had decided to “push-back”on the proposal. The MHNO has about 100 members. It’s membership has declined in the last decade or so because of its reputation for crippling internal turf wars and a lack of an identity. The last such chaotic meeting occurred this past April according to Norris.