View Full Version : West End infill

03-09-2007, 09:19 AM
Here's a rendering for the proposed building on Danforth and High Streets:


From Peter Bass's development company. The proposal includes two shared cars to minimize parking requirements and maximize affordability.

03-09-2007, 09:38 AM
Thank you very much for sharing, you always contribute good finds here. The west end's density always amazes me. There are about 11,000 people in half a square mile. Not too shabby, and according to census figure maps, that's denser than anywhere in northern new england, and even some other cities like providence. Thank you again for sharing. This should be great in fill. in fill is just as improtant as taller development, in my opinion, because without it the city looks pretty shabby. Density is great at all levels of height. the west end needs something like this to fill the few remaining parking lots there.

03-09-2007, 02:32 PM
Love thy neighbor, or else
Designs for living

Last month, as reported in the Portland Press Herald, Peter Bass, the developer responsible for converting the former Sacred Heart School on Sherman Street to artists? housing, received a warm reception from the city council?s housing committee for another of his projects, this one planned for a small lot on the corner of Portland?s Danforth and High Streets. But what wasn?t reported is that this building, if approved by the city council, would be the realization of what Bass calls an ?experiment? in urban housing.
?I threw away everything,? says Bass, owner of the Portland?based development company Random Orbit Inc. ?I threw away all the zoning and the parking requirements, and I said, here?s a progressive development that will hopefully solve some of Portland?s housing problems and [the housing committee] bought it.?

Bass hopes to build a 27-unit building (by architect David Floyd) where getting to know your neighbor is a necessity. The complex will include a communal guest room, lounge, roof deck, and laundry, and two shared cars. That?s right ? you could share ?your? car with at least 13 other strangers. So watch that paint job.

Condominiums in the building would range in size from 480 square feet (roughly equivalent to a large, two-room studio) to 777 square feet. Units will be priced from $125,000 to $185,000. Up to 13 additional parking spaces (for cars not communal) will be sold separately.

The units are intended for people who are hip to walking and who otherwise can?t afford to buy into the Cumberland County housing market, where the median home price, according to June 2006 numbers from the Maine Association of Realtors, is $249,900.

The city council?s housing committee unanimously endorsed Bass?s proposal over two other plans for the site on July 12. According to Aaron Shapiro, Director of Portland?s Housing and Neighborhood Services Division, the city council will likely review Bass?s proposal in late August or early September.

?The structure of the undertaking was something that had been discussed in planning circles and was a model that people were suggesting would be usable in Portland,? explains City Councilor Jim Cloutier, who sits on the housing committee. ?I think we?re finally interested in finding out whether that?s true. Because if it is true, then it?s not a subsidized undertaking, and you could then have a number of units approved along the same line.?

Bass?s progressive housing plan was realized in part through his conversations with Elizabeth Trice, an area activist who studies affordable-housing issues for Greater Portland singles. Bass?s proposal, if passed, will require the city to rezone the area to get around its parking rules, which for the lot in question require 41 parking spaces, rather than the 15 Bass has allowed.

?I think it will attract young professionals,? Bass says of his dense development, ?[with their] first decent job, people who want to get a foot-hold in ownership, but, you know, are used to living in communal housing and don?t need a lot of space but certainly want to live alone, finally, and be right in the middle of the city and be able to walk to everything.?

Bass is proposing to buy the land at Danforth and High streets, on which currently sits a parking lot for the University of Southern Maine, for $150,000.

As for guaranteeing that the future residents of this maybe-development can share their communal cars and guest room without attacking one another, Bass is a distant founding father.

?That?s not my business. As I said to the housing committee, this is a big experiment. They asked if I had experience in doing things like this, and I said I don?t think anybody does.?

03-09-2007, 03:33 PM
Call for creativity on artist housing

PORTSMOUTH - It happens all over the country: Artists looking for cheap housing move into a depressed part of town, bring new life to the neighborhood, and soon the area is booming with new housing and business developments.
This was the scenario outlined by Peter Bass, an affordable-housing developer from Maine, who spoke at an Art-Speak symposium on art space at City Hall Tuesday. The symposium was intended to generate ideas on how Portsmouth could foster affordable spaces for artists to live and work.

Bass said the city of Portland has supported his housing redevelopment projects because they appreciate what artists bring to their community.

"It is vital beside the artistic element, the economic development is there," Bass said. "It really can revitalize a town."

Although communities realize this potential, Bass said it can be difficult for developers to create affordable spaces for artists.

Bass said it is hard to find the right piece of land at an affordable price, a workable building, and a town whose zoning laws allow unconventional artist space developments.

Jeff Taylor, former director of the New Hampshire Office of State Planning, agreed there are many challenges to creating affordable housing, chalking up the difficulties to the state?s growing population and declining land stock.

A recent study tracking population growth in the past 17 years showed Greenland, Stratham and Exeter each grew by about 68 percent, Taylor said. However, the growth of physical development in each town increased by 140 percent.

"The amount of development we all see is putting increasing pressure on land," Taylor said. "As the price of land goes up, the value of the (building) you put on that site" goes up.

Taylor said, however, that some towns have found creative ways to create affordable housing despite rising costs.

In Exeter the town gave developers cost incentives to build affordable housing for its Watson Road development, Taylor said. Developers built 90 housing units, 20 affordably priced, on 112 acres and reserved another 120 acres for conservation.

Laconia waived its housing density rules to allow an affordable development that had 12 housing units per acre, Taylor said. In Amherst, developers were allowed to bypass certain zoning laws by placing deed restrictions to permanently cap house sizes at 1,300 square feet.

Taylor said communities should be more willing to embrace such unconventional development practices to encourage affordable housing.

12-27-2008, 06:08 PM
now in construction