Planning Board Hosts Preliminary Workshop on “Deering Place”


510 Cumberland Avenue, Formerly the Offices of  Peoples’ Regional Office Program, PROP, Proposed to be Part of a New Development by Avesta Housing.

The Proposed Building for Deering Street. David Lloyd is the Architect.  Neighbors Were Critical of the Massing of the Building.

Earlier this week, Portland’s Planning Board hosted a preliminary workshop on a subdivision called Deering Place, in the Parkside neighborhood of Portland.  It’s proposed to be a mixed-income project; both market rate and affordable housing. The developer of the property located at 510 Cumberland Avenue is Avesta Housing Development Corporation.

The Avesta proposal includes “renovating and expanding the existing building at 510 Cumberland Avenue, building a new structure facing Deering Street and creating a separate lot for the building located on the corner of Deering and Mellen Street,” according to a memorandum dated September 8, 2017 to the city’s planning board.  The planning board meeting was held on Tuesday,  September 12, 2017.

In response to emphatic criticism during  a neighborhood meeting held at 510 Cumberland Avenue on August 17, 2017, Avesta changed its configuration of units to mollify the critics.  At the planning board meeting earlier this week, Avesta downsized the number of units from 82 to 80 in the two buildings with 48 of the units proposed as affordable housing rather than the 50 previously proposed.  This change went largely unnoticed by the neighbors who were focused on other areas of contention in the proposal.

Avesta is requesting a waiver for the city’s parking requirement – from 84 down to 71 spaces. (510 Cumberland Avenue also houses the Community Policing Office.)  “The city is not addressing the real needs of parking.  We cannot absorb one more car on the street,” said Keri Lord, long-time Deering Street resident.  Deb Cook, a 20 year resident of Deering Street and a small landlord said that tenants of hers have been forced to leave because of the lack of on-street parking on Deering Street.  On-street parking in the neighborhood has already reached critical mass for many, including Cook and her husband Tony Holt.

Several neighbors expressed concern about the massing of the proposed Deering Street building.  Michael Patterson, a former planning board member, said that the units are too small to create homes creating a high rate of turnover at Deering Place.

Avesta will be conducting a parking analysis and the design of the building will be addressed by the Historic Preservation Board because the proposed Deering Place is situated within a historic district.

Deering Place was the last item on the planning board’s agenda on September 12 and the meeting ended at 10:00 pm with differing views.  Some members were very positive and enthusiastic about the project. Others expressed concern about the parking on the peninsula in general and said that more needs to be done to address the issue.

Please see previous post herein dated August 17, 2017 about a neighborhood meeting on Deering Place at which roughly 50 neighbors attended and offered their concerns on the proposal by Avesta Housing Development Corporation.