By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,314)
The Historic Preservation Board got its first look at proposed exterior changes (window replacements mostly) and a rooftop addition to 10 Exchange Street in the Old Port. Members of the Board seemed to like what they saw at a workshop late this afternoon. Representing 10 Exchange Properties LLC were two architects from Archetype Architects. Jonathan Cohen and Jon Hutchinson purchased the third and fourth floors of 10 Exchange Street from Joe Soley recently. Soley, a major property owner in the Old Port, still owns the first two floors of 10 Exchange Street.
The hardscrabble Fox Court, a narrow alley, will see dramatic changes to the exterior of the three buildings because it will serve as the entry way for multiple high-end condominiums that have possibly already been spoken for. 10 Exchange Street is actually three buildings that were connected by a previous owner. On the Fox Court building facade, graffiti has to be removed and outside wires have to be replaced indoors. Fragile balconies on one of the three buildings need to be removed. Then the windows will be replaced with a new entry added. Currently, Fox Court is used as a hangout for smokers and drinkers in the area. Tourists also follow a sign indicating restrooms in the across the alley city parking garage – because of the condition of the alley, tourists are surprised at the site to which they’ve been directed. However, this dramatic upgrade by 10 Exchange Street LLC will alleviate those conditions.
There is some structural damage to the front of two of the buildings – bulging – for example. Concern about the unknown extent of the damage to the interior of the building has been a factor in keeping other potential buyers from purchasing the almost 150 year old buildings. whose maintenance has been neglected for years now. A rooftop structure is planned for one of the three buildings.
About six years ago the City of Portland condemned 10 Exchange Street for safety violations. Tenants on the upper floors were given short notice to vacate their apartments. There are 28 units in the upper floors, although clearly there will be fewer condominium units. According to a source close to the situation, the apartments were padlocked closed to prevent vagrants from entering the units. The padlocking also prevented Joe Soley, building owner, from entering the units.
Shop owners have indicated enthusiasm for this redevelopment as it will increase foot traffic to the area which is always good for business.