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Old 07-07-2006, 10:24 AM   #1
Smuttynose
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Portsmouth

the ultimate NIMBY's!

Suit seeks to demolish portion of Portsmouth Hilton

By JODY RECORD
Union Leader Correspondent



Portsmouth ? A suit filed in Rockingham County Superior Court asks for a portion of the brand new Hilton Garden Inn on the corner of Hanover and High streets to be torn down and the area returned to a parking lot.

Owners of The Hill Condominium Association, a cluster of 12 historical buildings on Deer and High streets and abutting the new hotel, have been struggling to regain parking rights to 48 spaces they claim were lost with the recent development. The suit alleges the Hilton and adjoining luxury Harbour Hill condominiums were constructed illegally on a parking lot at the Parade Mall that had been deeded to The Hill in the 1970s. The owners and their customers had used the area until a construction fence was erected in February 2005.

The lawsuit is the latest in an ongoing struggle between The Hill and Parade Office LLC, owners of the just-opened hotel and the Parade Mall office complex.

A previous lawsuit by The Hill group claimed the ?Parade Mall had no right to interfere with The Hill?s use of the parking area by constructing buildings and other improvements there. In addition to damages for such interference, the current suit requests the superior court to order the owners of the Hilton and Harbour Hill to cease such interference by removing all structures and improvements from the parking area, restoring it to its former condition, and not taking any further action to obstruct it.?

?That?s a colorful request,? Paul McEachern, attorney for Parade Office LLC, said yesterday. ?The Hill is on record as favoring the construction of the hotel. I don?t know why they are now saying they want it torn down.?

McEachern said there had been a parking easement, but the previous owners of the historic condominiums ?withheld? it when they sold the buildings. What?s more, the Parade owners are willing to provide the same 48 spaces on the west side of the property, the Portsmouth attorney said, that would be shared with Parade Mall tenants.

Last month, a federal court judge sided with The Hill owners, saying the easement still existed.

McEachern planned to file a motion asking the superior court from acting on the request to tear down part of the hotel until an appeal of the federal court?s decision is decided.
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:46 AM   #2
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Wow, can they get any more backward than this?
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Old 07-15-2006, 09:04 PM   #3
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I went to check out portsmouth today. It instantly became my second favorite city in all of new england. SO much going on there for such a small town. ate at the stock pot. wow. right on the water, two people even jumped in the ocean from the restaurant roof. very impressed. beats manch in my book, even without the skyscrapers. it was very cool. wonder why not more populated?
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Old 07-17-2006, 03:19 AM   #4
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No kidding. Did you drink Pabst by any chance? I like Portsmouth a lot as well. It has a great relationship with the water, which is key. Portsmouth lost a good chunk of its pop. when Pease Airforce Base closed there in the early 90's. Now, I think maybe the high costs of living there has kept the pop. low/declining.
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Old 07-19-2006, 01:41 AM   #5
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Wow, NIMBY's are insane in Portsmouth. I've highlighted the ridiculous parts.

Council delays hotel, conference center decision
By MICHAEL GOOT
Portsmouth Bureau Chief

PORTSMOUTH ? After hearing almost four hours of testimony on the issue, the City Council on Monday decided to hold off on any decision on the four zoning changes for HarborCorp's large hotel and convention center proposal.

HarborCorp is seeking to build a 207-room Westin Hotel, a 19,000 square foot conference facility, about two dozen residential condos, and a 657-space parking garage on Russell Street in downtown Portsmouth. One zoning change would rezone the parcel from Central Business A to Central Business B zoning to allow for a 60-foot height limit instead of 50 feet. Two changes would amend the parking ordinance to allow the developer to have off-street parking on a lot they do not own and receive credit for the parking spaces. The final change would allow a conference center of 500 people or more as a permitted use instead of only permitted by special exception.

About 60 people filled the council chambers on the matter. Those who spoke before the council were split on whether to issue the zoning changes. Given the length of the meeting, Assistant Mayor Tom Ferrini made the motion to recess the meeting so the council could continue discussing the issue. The council will continue its discussion on Wednesday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

Councilor Harold Whitehouse Jr. said he felt strongly the city should not allow the hotel a ten foot height variance. "Are we going to wall ourselves in?" he said.

HarborCorp's attorney, Malcolm McNeill, said the existing Sheraton will be higher than this building. The architectural team has worked hard to design an appropriate building. "The plan for this building was 72 feet," he said. "We have made every effort we can from an engineering and architectural perspective to lower this building. We cannot lower this building any further."

Caroline McGee of Deer Street said before the Sheraton came along Deer Street was kind of a "ghost town," and she said the conference center will be the next step in that revitalization. George Carlisle of 122 Mill Pond Way said he was impressed with the proposal and the potential economic benefits to the city.

Paul Young of Calypso Communications, which has done publicity for the project, presented a petition with 300 signatures by residents and business owners in support of the project.

Tom Keane, who represents Ocean Properties, which owns the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, said the project can sustain itself without the additional height ."Where is the public benefit in the developer getting to build 21 luxury condominiums, which will be sold ? if you look at market conditions ? at an average of $750,000 a piece for more than $15 million" he said.

Karen Jacoby of 35 Wibird St. said, "I don't want to create another cavern: downtown.

Barbara Ward of 16 Nixon Park said the "monolithic structure" could hurt Portsmouth's special character, which was important in the master plan. "I didn't hear anybody say I want this town to have thousands and thousands of more tourists in it," she said.

Since when is a 60-foot building a "monolithic structure." Portsmouth should be thrilled to have such an important project proposed there.
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Old 07-20-2006, 06:34 PM   #6
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well. we could use the extra tourists this summer, if portsmouth doesnt want them. i mean, it only took an hour to get from south port to port today on the interstate! geesh.

anyway, portsmouth was awesome, i liked it a lot. what was the max pop of the town? its like 21,000 now i think, right?
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Old 07-20-2006, 10:14 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick
well. we could use the extra tourists this summer, if portsmouth doesnt want them. i mean, it only took an hour to get from south port to port today on the interstate! geesh.

anyway, portsmouth was awesome, i liked it a lot. what was the max pop of the town? its like 21,000 now i think, right?
Portsmouth's high point was 1790, when it was the 11th biggest city in the country with a whole 4,700 residents.

More recently, Portsmouth has never really been big. It's population stayed steady at about 26,000 from 1970 thru 1990 and then dropped after Pease closed. But Portsmouth is the center of the NH seacoast metro area, which ironically has bigger cities like Rochester pop. 30,000 and Dover pop. 29,000, in it. All together I think there are about 300,000 people in that region.
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Old 07-22-2006, 12:30 PM   #8
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if i were to move to NH it would be to portsmouth...but it could use a high rise or two, done right so that they dont ruin the unique character of the town, which i believe is more fragile than portland's...in portland we have the old port, but then also plenty of land inwhich we could build tall without ruining history, but i didnt get that feeling in portsmouth, i felt like anything glass would ruin the place.
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Old 07-28-2006, 12:02 PM   #9
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^ A skyrise unfortunately would never get through in Portsmouth. There is a 50 foot height restriction for downtown, and the Westin had to go thru a lot just to get a variance for their 60 foot hotel. They're a little too restrictive there.
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Old 07-28-2006, 12:09 PM   #10
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Firm proposes hotel, garage at Portsmouth scrap metal site

By MICHAEL GOOT
Portsmouth Bureau Chief

PORTSMOUTH ? The hotel industry has discovered Downtown Portsmouth. With a 207-room Westin Hotel in the works for Russell Street, and the new 132 room Hilton just opening on Deer Street, developers are now proposing another hotel for the waterfront.

A local developer has proposed replacing the scrap metal pile at the Port of New Hampshire with a hotel and parking garage.

Tom Walsh, owner of Ocean Properties ? which owns the Courtyard by Marriott in Portsmouth and Wentworth by the Sea Hotel in New Castle ? said the company approached the Pease Development Authority, which also manages the port. about the idea.

Walsh would not get into specifics about the design in a recent interview. However, he said the firm offered to pay the PDA $500,000 a year as part of the arrangement.

PDA Interim Executive Director David Mullen confirmed Tuesday that Ocean Properties' proposal had been reviewed by the staff, which concluded it would require a substantial change in use for the facility.

"It hasn't really moved further than that. We did in nonpublic session review it with the board. That's as far as it went," he said. "Our concern was while it was an alternative use, it was not the working port use."

The city's master plan calls for "renewed support for a working waterfront and improved visual and physical connections to the water's edge."

Mullen said he could not remember the exact size of the facility but noted that between the building and associated parking, it would have greatly reduced the space available for other activities.

Right now, a significant area at the port is used by International Salt and Grimmel Industries' scrap metal.

Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko, who is on the PDA board, said he preferred not to comment on the issue because it was discussed in nonpublic session.

The discussion took place during a nonpublic session at the PDA's October 2005 meeting.

PDA Chairman Art Nickless and William Bartlett, who served as chairman of the board of directors at the time, did not return messages left for comment.

Ocean Properties recently has expressed concerns about HarborCorp LLC's project to build a 207-room Westin Hotel, 19,000 square feet of conference space and a 657-space public parking garage. Among the items they have criticized is that the project's scale would be too massive. They have filed a lawsuit against the city bonding $15 million to pay for the parking garage component.

The City Council is set to resume deliberations tonight at 7 p.m. on proposed zoning changes to facilitate that project.
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Old 08-27-2006, 01:20 PM   #11
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Living on Market Square would be cool. But $1,495,000 cool for a 3 bedroom condo? That's what they're asking for in this new development next to North Church.

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Old 08-27-2006, 08:27 PM   #12
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for a luxury condo in a city like portsmouth or portland, that is a normal asking price. Sounds absurd, but you would be surprised at the type of money that circulates in the pockets of people living in portsmouth....i love portsmouth, i would buy that if I were a millionaire.
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Old 08-28-2006, 06:00 PM   #13
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If I were a millionaire buying a 1.5 million dollar place in portsmouth, i'd at least want a water view,and a beach, and an endlessly stocked bar, and a pool, and a hot tub, and one of those beds that rotates, and a guy that answers the door with a british accent...
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Old 08-28-2006, 10:18 PM   #14
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yeah youre right, but I was assuming that would all come with it. Take our planned westin residences, for example, they are going to go for over a million and they have all of the services of the hotel (valet, room service, pool, etc, and water views). and in portsmouth, the water is only a short walk away from market square, i passed by that development in july on my way to a waterfront restaurant.
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Old 08-28-2006, 11:02 PM   #15
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What is the status of the Westin? I know I could go thru the posts and find out but I'm wicked lazy today. Is it still coming? Have they started construction? I've learned that the reputation of the development co. is key to determining the chances of a project actually getting off the ground and this Procaccianti Group seems pretty legit.
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Old 08-29-2006, 11:41 AM   #16
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The westin is still coming, supposedly, but nobody knows in what shape, form, or when. The Proc group teamed up with a local, michael liberty, who is taking a lot of heat for a business scandal of his. after learning of that, the press herald reports that the westin has been scaled down due to a declining real estate market (it was a combo hotel and condos). i dont buy that, because whoever dreampt up the idea for the grander design must not have been under the impression that the real estate market would be booming forever, its more of a cyclical thing, as most people know. for example, what if the market booms again in the iddle of construction, are they going to add some more floors? it doesnt make sense to develop real estate that way..so i think something else is going on behind the scenes. the westin was banking on taking customers from the ocean gateway cruise ship terminal, and now the city is pushing for a hotel to be built right on the water right next to ocean gateway and i think that is spooking the developers a little bit, who see their investment opportunity slipping away. plans right now to the best of my knowledge are up in the air as the hotel is redesigned.
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Old 08-29-2006, 12:50 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick
The westin is still coming, supposedly, but nobody knows in what shape, form, or when. The Proc group teamed up with a local, michael liberty, who is taking a lot of heat for a business scandal of his. after learning of that, the press herald reports that the westin has been scaled down due to a declining real estate market (it was a combo hotel and condos). i dont buy that, because whoever dreampt up the idea for the grander design must not have been under the impression that the real estate market would be booming forever, its more of a cyclical thing, as most people know. for example, what if the market booms again in the iddle of construction, are they going to add some more floors? it doesnt make sense to develop real estate that way..so i think something else is going on behind the scenes. the westin was banking on taking customers from the ocean gateway cruise ship terminal, and now the city is pushing for a hotel to be built right on the water right next to ocean gateway and i think that is spooking the developers a little bit, who see their investment opportunity slipping away. plans right now to the best of my knowledge are up in the air as the hotel is redesigned.
Word I got from someone involved in the Commercial Real Estate world downtown Portland is that the Proc. Group pretty much now hates M. Liberty and wants him out. What I am told is the Westin won't happen anytime in the near future. I am also told that Waterview will probably never get built. Cohen doesn't have financing and isn't likely to get financing for the project. HiS building that he is selling on Congress Street is ay overpriced and not in very good condition. So don't look for that to happen anytime soon. Cohen will probably eventually sell the Waterview propoerty for a profit.
As far as 3PS is concerned, talks continue w/ a prominent Portland Law firm but $$ have to be agreed upon w/ the 2 parties involved. Law firm would be the major tenant w/ another mid level tenant needed for the project to work financially.
Portland "the City where almost nothing ever gets built"!
The State is going to screw up the Cabela's - Scarborough deal too! This State is so anti-business/ development! Sucks!!
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Old 08-29-2006, 01:27 PM   #18
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^^ well it is and it isnt. for a city of 63,000 portland has got to be the densest and most built city of its kind in the country (excluding small cities like willmington deleware, which benefits tremendously from philly, i hear, and other like cities....portland is a center, dependent on no other metropolis than itself, and it is therefore unique and remarkable that we are so built up considering that fact.)

anyway, sorry to steal the thread from portsmouth.
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Old 08-29-2006, 07:39 PM   #19
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How's that newish sports bar in Portsmouth? Saw the website, can't remember the name. Looks like a cool place.

When you think of the positioning of the three cities...Boston, Portsmouth, and Portland, you would think that Portland would be the middle city and Portsmouth would be the city the furthest away up here in Maine. Just an observation.
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Old 08-29-2006, 08:14 PM   #20
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yeah I have thought the same thing many times before, gritty's, and this is what I have come up with.

1. Portsmouth is the end of the boston metro more or less, meaning even if Boston did not exist, portland would still be what it is today. In other words, it is not so strange that it goes from boston to portsmouth to portland the way it does because the boston influence ends at portsmouth....but if we were a major fringe city of the boston metro, it would definitely be weird that we were bigger than portsmouth, being farther away and all.

2. Portsmouth is at the center of the seacoast region, which has a lot more people in it than the population of portsmouth would lead one to believe. portsmouth has only 20 something thousand people, however other towns in the area are over 30,000 I believe. The only town near portland to have over 30,000 is lewiston and it is 45 minutes away...suprisingly, not even south portland has 30,000, even though it feels like it should have closer to 50,000 in my opinion.
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