By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,310)
A deal is in the works, that if approved by the city council on Monday, May 18th between the Souls of Portland, the developer CPB2 and city officials, could end a public food fight among these parties over the redevelopment of 58 Fore Street on the Portland waterfront.
Some members of the Souls were active in the nasty fight against the Maine Narrow Gauge Museum & Railroad on the same almost 10 acres of property on the waterfront in the 90s. These NIMBY’s include Nini McManamy and Barbara Vestal.
.At issue has been pressure from the SoulsofPortland, a band of Hill activists, who have opposed a zone change request from the developer CPB2, managed by Jim Brady. The zone change would give the developer the flexibility to develop a mix-used project on almost ten acres of valuable waterfront property at the bottom of Munjoy Hill. These anti-growth activists tried to stop the redevelopment of this former industrial area, but seening no progress on that front, they have settled in on a view restriction approach to the waterfront.
More recently the activists’ focus has been on waterfront views and keeping them available to the public because other concerns resonnated with themselves only. Some property owners are concerned that in some spots building heights 35 ft. above Fore Street would be permitted. So concerned that the group threatened to take the matter to a referendum on the November ballot unless certain conditions are met; height limitations and development plans for example.
This afternoon Mayor Michael Brennen said he is prepared to offer amendments to the zone change ordinance that will come up Monday evening. The amendments are:
1. If the inclusionary zone ordinance passes, it will apply to the 58 Fore Street redevelopment; 2.The developer must complete a Master Plan for most of the 10 acres before construction begins;3. The developer can’t build anything above Fore Street between Waterville and Atlantic Streets. The measurement for the height of the buildings will be measured from the flood plain. The developer will be offered other areas of the property where it can build higher than previously allowed to offset the change between Waterville and Atlantic Streets.
Mayor Brennan said he has talked to a number of members of the City Council, representatives of the Souls as well as Jim Brady, of CPB2, although he would not divulge the results of those conversations.
“While we appreciate Mayor Brennan’s optimism with regard to a compromise, to our knowledge, SOP has not agreed to come to the table. There are currently no negotiations in progress,” said Jim Brady, manager of CPB2, in an email.
The redevelopment of the former Portland Company Complex will bring significant tax revenue to the City as well as many jobs to the area. It is expected that the development will take years to complete.