Midtown Project Vote Postponed Until 3/3/15

Jonathan Cox, Chairman of The Federated Companies at a Recent Planning Board Meeting.

Jonathan Cox, Chairman of The Federated Companies at a Recent Planning Board Meeting.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 2,295)

In a last minute decision, The Federated Co., informed the city this morning that it was not ready to appear before the city’s planning board today for a vote on its most recent proposal to transform  3.5 acres of blighted land in Bayside. into a mixed-used development – introducing 445 new apartments and parking space into a former industrial location on the East End of Portland. Greg Mitchell, Director of the City’s Economic Development office said the Miami-based developer wanted to bring forward unresolved issues to the city’s board. The meeting has been postponed until Tuesday, March 3rd.

Cox has stated repeatedly that he will not talk to the press until after the public hearing.  This is apparently because he was misquoted by a reporter from “The Portland Press” suggesting that he would withdraw his appliction if it were not approved by the planning board at the January 27th meeting – a meeting that never happened.

Five years ago The Federated Co.,began negotiations with the city on the sale of the property that borders on the underutilized Portland Trails. The development of this property was expected to increase the use of the Bayside Trail.   Last year the city approved the first plan that was expansive.  It included four tall apartment buildings and two parking garages. However, a non-profit KeepPortlandLivable that opposed the development filed a lawsuit against the developer, Jonathan Cox CEO, of The Federated Co.  A settlement was reached last fall with the plaintiff when the lawsuit was put on hold because Cox agreed to greatly diminish the size of the development so it could move forward hopefully in time for a spring ground breaking.

The planning board at its recent meetings this year has been extremely critical toward this iteration of the development; Midtown. Planning Board member Jack Soley has been hostile toward the design of the building and has not minced words in his feelings about it.  Nathan Smith, Esq., Bernstein, Shur, formerly representing Noyes Self-Storage, located at Somerset Street has repeatedly informed the planning board that his client is concerned about flooding in the building that could occur because the development is in a location that is often flooded, despite an agreement  between the city and developer to elevate the corner. That has been a challenge to planning board approval, but it is unknown if that remains a stumbling block at this time.