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Old 04-11-2010, 10:08 PM   #41
Patrick
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Re: Portland Renderings

No I have not seen those signs. I thought they all just said development lots available. I wonder if a land speculator has grabbed them in a down market to resell when the Bayside trail opens at a higher value. You are talking about Fox Street, right, by Rent-a-Center? Would have been nice to see this there:

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Old 04-12-2010, 07:03 AM   #42
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Re: Portland Renderings

Yep, on the Rent a center building itself there is a leased or under contract sign and then right after it on the grass there is a sign. With whole foods and trader joe's being in the neighborhood along with such a busy road, you'd think companies would start catching on.
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Old 04-12-2010, 09:15 AM   #43
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Re: Portland Renderings

Path fixes could be route
to safety in East Bayside



PORTLAND ? When police respond to calls in East Bayside, they face a major obstacle: the legacy of 1960s urban planning.
click image to enlarge

This path through the Kennedy Park neighborhood in Portland will be widened and lighted to improve safety.


Back then, planners broke up the area's street grid, created dead-end roads and situated housing projects like Kennedy Park and Bayside Terrace on urban islands, segregating them from other neighborhoods.

Now, when police are called to the area, they have to weave their cruisers along several streets before reaching their destination. then, any suspects have long scattered.

"They are gone before I get there," said Gayle Petty, the senior lead police officer for the East End.

The city plans to change all that this year.

It will widen two walking paths so police can drive cruisers on them and have quick access to the area. It also plans to add outdoor lighting and landscaping and remove a stockade fence that can provide a hiding place.

If the paths are safer, more people will use them, say city officials and neighborhood leaders.

"It turns out to be really good to have a lot of pedestrian traffic," said Belinda Ray of East Street, who works as a community organizer for the East Bayside Neighborhood Organization. "People are less likely to commit crime when they are being watched."

Portland is using $89,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money to improve the path between Fox Street and North Boyd Street. The city will also extend the path west to connect with the Bayside Trail, now under construction. Portland Trails will manage the construction project.

In addition, the city will widen the path between Fox Field and the adjacent basketball court. That path connects Fox Street with Kennedy Park.

That project is being funded with $60,000 in Community Development Block Grant money and matching funds from private donors, including the Portland Red Claws basketball team and Walmart.

It will include new outdoor lighting, landscaping improvements around Fox Field and improvements to the basketball court. The project will add lights to the court and create two junior high school-size basketball courts.

Both projects are expected to be complete before November, said Penny St. Louis Littell, director of the city's Planning and Urban Development Department.

The work is part of an approach to crime prevention that goes by a couple of names: "defensible space" and "crime prevention through environmental design."

Dave Rogers, a civil engineer from Seattle who toured East Bayside last week as part of a planning project involving outside experts, said Portland is taking the right steps.

Rogers said that planners and police agencies across the country have learned since the 1960s that the conventional grid of city streets provides the best level of safety by creating long sightlines and giving police quick access.

Now, he said, communities must spend money to reconnect streets that were chopped up in the '60s. "It is undoing what was done."
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Old 04-12-2010, 08:44 PM   #44
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:05 PM   #45
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Re: Portland Renderings

Those look cool. Have they brought in the recking ball yet to make way for this?
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Old 04-13-2010, 02:02 PM   #46
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Re: Portland Renderings

nope. The blockades are partially up to prevent parking there now, but the planning board does site plan review this evening.
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Old 04-24-2010, 11:42 AM   #47
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Re: Portland Renderings

AVESTA's new efficiency units, planned for the former site of the planned Oak Street Lofts.



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Old 04-25-2010, 12:12 AM   #48
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Re: Portland Renderings

It's nice to see more stuff in the works during this economy, don't get me wrong...but a 4 story building on the "backbone"? Come on! I've read in the past that other cities have seen proposals like this and recommended tacking on a few more stories. I know it's wishful thinking, but I would like to see that happen in this case! Anyhow, thanks for posting the latest info Patrick!
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Old 04-25-2010, 04:26 PM   #49
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Re: Portland Renderings

True Shazbat, but remember, this is a very tiny footprint. Maybe a few more floors would have worked, but in any case they wouldn't be visible in the skyline, blocked as they would probably be by either Holiday Inn or Back Bay Towers. I like it. It extends the pedestrian scaled environment in a way that better connects to Back Bay Tower. all that said, though, a high rise would be nice!
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Old 04-26-2010, 11:34 AM   #50
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Re: Portland Renderings

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Originally Posted by Patrick View Post



I like how it creates a well scaled street wall along with the 555 building. Certainly a good place for an infill project and not a 'signature building.' I look forward to any development that helps expand the Congress Street pedestrian area.
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Old 04-26-2010, 06:15 PM   #51
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Re: Portland Renderings

Yes, I agree Corey. There are certainly times when scale matters, and this seems to be one of them. I can't stand, however, when people yack about scale and its a wide open parking lot or a building with other high rises around it. Portland is great for so many reasons. small buildings. tall buildings. natural scenery. this definitely adds to the urban fabric. I would have been okay with something a floor or two shorter or a floor or two taller. This seems to strike the right balance in extending downtown toward back bay, that's what I like about it.
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Old 07-12-2010, 11:19 PM   #52
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Re: Portland Renderings

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Although the more outrageous ones tend to be the ones that didn't ever happen.

Generally, that's more due to market reality than to Portland's bureaucracy or NIMBYism. NIMBYism sure doesn't help - it delayed the Waterview high-rise condo proposal (shown below) for several years. But our city's better off today without a half-empty highrise - or highrises - flooding the market with "luxury" condos.
I'm just getting a chance to look over the comments here, and I have to disagree with you somewhat. I know you regularly contribute valuable posts here, which I appreciate very much, so please don't take this the wrong way. I think most of what you have to say is spot on. But this area is where I take a different position...

The projects that are "outrageous" are no such thing. It is a common ploy of developers to pitch projects larger and grander in scale than what they ultimately intend to build (especially if they anticipate opposition) so that they look like they are negotiating in good faith and making concessions for which they should be rewarded when they "scale down" their projects to the size originally intended. That's what I believe Mr. Cacoulidis was doing when he proposed a hotel and convention center for Bug Light. However, he also may have been 100% serious and trying to "test" local residents' responses to his ambitions, because he has money to play with. His proposal, by the way was presented to planning officials in South Portland, and was the topic of several public meetings there. The fact that it received very little support from the beginning meant it would be futile to discuss the air-tram with Portland officials. Without the centerpiece development, there would be no need for the linkage system. I think such a system would have been great, and would have opened up the connectivity between Portland's downtown and the more remote locations of So Po immeasurably. The same line of travel envisioned by Mr. Cacoulidis was previously considered as the site of a bridge linking the two cities. Not too far fetched at all in my opinion, and really would have added to the tourist appeal of Portland (its major draw).

Also, I must disagree that the larger projects not going forward are due more to the economy than to NIMBYism. Of course, there is no way to tell which matters most, but I tend to think it is the inverse of what you said. Projects being derailed is more a function of NIMBYs than the market, but of course the market doesn't help either. And, I don't think our city is better off without some of the larger projects envisioned in the recent past. Waterview is a grassy knoll. The Top of the Old Port parking lot is a sea of asphalt. Lots in the Old Port previously earmarked for major towers are still vacant (meaning the property tax base is that much more on the shoulders on residents as opposed to commercial entities), and the Maine State Pier is still about to fall into the Ocean. Also, look at the Village at Oceangate, which was for some time a topic of intense online NIMBY blogging by the owner and developer of the Federal Street Townhomes directly behind it. That caused the project to go "back to the drawing board" enough times that by the time it was acceptable to all directly interested parties, the market wave it had been riding dissipated and began to recede. Countless developers want nothing to do with development in Portland because of the City's attitude. This may result in more reasoned development in our city (and on a much smaller scale) but it also leads to the further sprawling of our metro region (one of the worst cases of sprawl in the country in terms of proportion, according to a Brookings Institue report). So, in my opinion, having followed development in Portland for years, NIMBYism is everywhere. Its like a disease, and the fact that Portland is a popular destination for people 'from away' who want to move here and freeze it in its tracks doesn't help much. Munjoy Hill and East Bayside have all of a sudden become trendy to live in, when a few years ago, those areas were by and large mostly like what their worst areas look like today. There weren't any Cool-Town Studio types hanging out talking about progressive and responsible development (not that that's bad), and there weren't any retirees or urban farmers looking for a Burlington, VT experience. There were hard working people in strong and ethnically routed neighborhoods looking for commercial gain and prosperity--much like many of Portland's current residents were when they made their money in other, larger cities before moving here.

Lastly, the City's bureaucracy has for years had its head in the sand. True, some people are to be commended for an excellent job, but by and large the City government has an antiquated site development review process (which the Portland COC has been working tirelessly with the City to revamp), an outdated use-based land use code, and represents an electorate that long ago witnessed its political base shift off-peninsula to the suburbs (where support for urban vibrancy and vitality are far less important) when the current system of government was put in place.
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Last edited by Patrick; 07-12-2010 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:03 AM   #53
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Re: Portland Renderings


This rendering shows the two phases as they might look together, once the town homes and other condos to the east are built.
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Old 07-15-2010, 11:19 AM   #54
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Re: Portland Renderings

^ @patrick: I don't claim that NIMBYism and bureaucracy aren't problems in this city. But remember: the defunct Watermark condos had the full support of the city and neighborhood, and it also received generous financial incentives from City Hall. You can't blame the government for that empty lot.

My point is that the larger projects proposed back in 2004-2007 were symptomatic of the global housing bubble - the false belief that condos and other properties would keep on rising in value, forever. Without the bubble's fantasyland financial projections, the proformae on projects like Waterview and Watermark don't pencil out. That's a much bigger problem for these schemes than NIMBYism.

You might say, "so what? The developers might have gone bankrupt in the financial crisis, but if only they'd been fast-tracked and built, we'd have these great new buildings and neighborhoods in downtown Portland." And I agree that these projects would probably have been an improvement to the city's built environment in the short term - plus middle-class households could have picked up some bargain condos in the aftermath's foreclosure auctions.

But that scenario would have been horrible for Portland's economy, which would be horrible to our built environment in the long term. Maine's banks, remember, largely dodged the subprime crisis. In the aftermath, TD Bank - whose American headquarters are right here in Portland - was able to leverage its position to expand tremendously while other megabanks like Citigroup and Bank of America were still reeling from the crisis. Bangor Savings Bank and other smaller regional/local banks also made out handsomely - these were some of the only financial institutions in the country that still had money to lend in those weeks following the panic. But if their balance sheets had been saddled with underwater loans for hundreds of empty condos and their developers, it would have been a different story.

Plus, half-empty buildings downtown would have really damaged property values elsewhere in the city, by forcing homesellers in other neighborhoods to compete in price with hundreds of new condos with desperate institutional sellers. Places like Miami, southern California, and Las Vegas are still reeling from that effect. Portland's proposed condo developments were smaller than Miami's, but we're a smaller city too - the proportion of foreclosures to total inventory would probably have been similar. But we didn't flood the market with new inventory, and so neighborhoods elsewhere in the city have maintained healthy values.

So today, I'm seeing quite a healthy amount of renovation and new infill construction in places like Munjoy Hill and Deering and even downtown (with the Oak St. Lofts proposal, the new Hampton Inn and condos, and the redevelopment of the old USM dorms), thanks to stable property values, a relatively healthy metropolitan economy, and the availability of credit from healthy local banks. And I'd rather have this scenario than the Miami/SoCal alternative.

Last but not least: the Maine State Pier is not falling into the ocean. A city-commissioned engineering study conclusively proved that that idea was nothing more than snake-oil invented by the sleazebags at Ocean Properties. The whole Maine State Pier circus was the perfect embodiment of developers' (and the City's) delusion during the property bubble. If you really believe any developer was going to make money from building a luxury hotel, subterranean parking garage, and an office building on pilings in the ocean (instead of on the city's dozens of parking lots), then I've got some skyscrapers in Dubai to sell you.

See http://www.workingwaterfront.com/onl...llel-44/13353/
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Old 07-15-2010, 11:35 AM   #55
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Re: Portland Renderings

Quote:
the Maine State Pier is still about to fall into the Ocean.
I just hope it makes it until the Ween concert tomorrow night! I can't make it, but I wish I could--sounds like a great place for a show.
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:38 PM   #56
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Re: Portland Renderings

All good points. With that detailed elaboration, I can say I agree with you more than I initially thought. My previous response was fueled by the skepticism I automatically get when people try to downplay NIMBYism. NIMBYism is everywhere. That being said, however, your points about local lending institutions and property values are all valid and I don't dispute their importance.
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Old 07-15-2010, 12:49 PM   #57
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And one additional point...while what you said about residential housing stock (or would it have then been a flow?) is on point, what about the Boulos Tower in 2005, a "commercial" building which would have been home to none other than Toronto-Dominion aka TD headquarters? The private portion was viable only with the public arena, which depended on a local option sales tax increase, but which was not supported at the State level. Similarly, what about John C's plans announced last summer to build a high rise on the lot next to city hall? The first official comment reported in the newspaper about that idea from a city councilor was that it is 'wildly out of scale with Portland's comprehensive plan." "Wildly" is not an easily definable term and to my mind loosely translates to "we don't want this." I know the particular councilor to whom I am referring has had a lot of great ideas for this city, many of which have been implemented and with which we are much better off. Of course, when he made the aforementioned statement, it is completely possible that he was just responding to his electorate in the east end, but that just goes to show that, if not a problem of city government, it is a problem of oddball vocal residents. I am not against the neo hippies living on "the hill" but c'mon, sometimes their attitude is just way off base. I can't point to any specific statement or occurrence, but that doesn't mean I'm fabricating all this. It's a general backwoods hippy attitude that is common in places like Portsmouth, Portland, Burlington, etc. It can get annoying. NIMBYism and anti-development attitudes are rampant in maine. The proposal for a skyscraper on the same site as the Boulos proposal from 2005 (Top of the Old Port parking lot) in 1988 was a complete "go" but it required TIF for parking that the city refused to allow. A TIF, as I'm sure you know, does nothing but IMPROVE a place by taking the extra taxes generated by commercial real estate improvements and funneling them back to help pay for the improvements. The city is now allowing TIF for Pierce Atwood to stay in the city when, in my opinion, we could do without them. I know they provide hundreds of jobs (and thus hundreds of downtown employees), but if the city adjusted its position to be more business friendly, it could be easily replaced. Not overnight, but easily nonetheless. Also, for those in city government who DO have a clue, they lack the cohesion to see it through. I was really looking forward to a recommendation for a "strong" mayor, for this reason, but it doesn't seem like we'll get that.
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Old 07-15-2010, 01:07 PM   #58
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Re: Portland Renderings

Sorry, one more comment on this. First, I really don't mean to be coming off defensive (although I am). I appreciate your balanced views on this stuff, and your input.

That said, though, I was thinking about your comment about developers not making money by developing the pier into a hotel and office space. Even if the pier is NOT falling into the ocean (which wouldn't surprise me), it still IS on the City's books as an expenditure rather than a revenue generating piece of property. Is that ever good? It is far underutilized. Moreover, although we DO have plenty of parking lots in town to develop, how many of them face the water? nevermind, don't answer that, because the answer is "a ton" (see Dimillo's). But honestly, you don't think the MSP would have been a spectacular success as a hotel? When I worked at the Portland Harbor Hotel, we would sell out every summer, and people would always ask for a room with a view of the water. People with big NYC money dropping their kids off or visiting them at camp for the summer. Imagine their surprise when I said, sorry, we don't have any waterviews, but I can offer you a view of the garden or our wharf street side (which allows not so much as a wink of sleep Wednesday through Saturday). The hotel is called the Portland Habor, but its not on the harbor, in fact you can't even see the harbor except if you stand on the roof. Our biggest competitor, even though it wasn't even nearly in the same "class" of hotels, was the Hilton. Why? Because it is across the street from the water. You can actually see the water there, so it doesn't matter that the Regency is closer to the Portland Harbor Hotel in amenities, it is NOT the Portland harbor hotel's biggest competitor. People want the water. Instead, our waterfront offers private access only points, stinky fish piers, and parking lots. The hotel idea would have been great and I suspect others would have thought the same. I'm not saying PORT land should become HOTEL land or CONDO land, but I do think the hotel by either developer would have been a huge success and provided additional and much needed public space (that would be actually enjoyable to use as opposed to just looking at some painted lines on concrete and sitting at a picnic table). Anyway, now I am ranting.
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Old 07-15-2010, 09:24 PM   #59
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Oh, and the Oak Street affordable housing units, what a brilliant project (not being sarcastic) and even that was the subject of NIMBY criticism. The so-called "luxury" units nearby (which really aren't all that more than the median home price) were complaining about the "afforable" nature of the planned avesta units. what? Luxury condos are bad. Affordable housing is bad. Commercial office towers are bad. commercial office complexes (not towers) aka sprawl are bad. LNG facilities are bad. Wind turbines are bad. But Pot dispensaries are ok? I'm sure not everyone thinks like this, yet whenever there is a project announced, the media seize on sensational stories of neighbors criticizing the projects shortcomings (as if vacant land is better). That's always how it is. A wind tunnel is going to knock a franklin towers resident off their walker, or a tower is going to block a view of the oil tanks, or a wind turbine is going to disrupt the sound of falling snowflakes. But yet if we want to spend hundreds of thousands in commissioned "reports" (which flow to out of state consulting firms) and in opportunity costs regarding replacing or renovating (or is it replacing?) or is it renovating? the civic center, that's ok. If we want to spend money paying some guy to paint the oddest looking mural on the art all around tanks, that's ok. But nevermind jobs, for some reason commercial entities are to be distrusted it seems. Hey, I know, its a conspiracy by the resource center because, with jobs, those types of places would be useless and we would no longer have a psychological barrier between the arts district and bayside and a worthwhile plan might actually succeed. Its not just city government, its a very vocal minority that speaks for the widely dispersed and less interested majority. Again I am ranting, and this post isn't directed at anyone (because I know you're not claiming NIMBYism doesn't exist or that city bureaucracy is perfect) in particular, Cneal, but this discussion has brought up a lot of points that irritate me about the prevailing development attitude in Maine.
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:05 PM   #60
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Re: Portland Renderings


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