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Old 06-19-2011, 12:43 AM   #1181
Patrick
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

And other buildings missing from that photo are the Boulos tower (both of them, actually), Waterview, the Bayside Developers' Collaborative buildings, John Cacoulidis' 30 story building, the Fidelity Addition, 20 Pearl Street, the Sun Trust high-rise, Lincoln Square, etc. lol.

Portlander you need to check out this month's edition of Portland Magazine for an article written substantially on information you supplied. Great photos in it too.
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Old 06-19-2011, 07:55 AM   #1182
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Will do Patrick, thanks.
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Old 06-20-2011, 12:32 AM   #1183
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

I noticed mention of a "Complete Streets" Agenda item for the Portland Transportation Committee tomorrow night. Is this the first that they've attempted any sort of discussion around "Complete Streets"? Last I Checked, Maine is one of the last states to not have a single municipality pass a CS ordinance. It would be nice to see something passed in Portland before they start taking it up in Washington.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to attend tomorrow nights meeting, so if somebody makes it please let me know.
Also, the Thompson's Point development+Bayside+Eastern Waterfront has revived some of the talk of bringing back a streetcar loop to Portland. Not Light Rail, or Commuter Rail, but streetcar ALA Pearl District. The idea behind it would be that the relative density of the peninsulawould make a streetcar a viable option despite the overall small population. There are almost 20 cities proposing, planning or building streetcar lines currently and many of them have realized that the real estate value capture alone is enough to come up with matching funds for a small operation. The main issue would be that it would have to be proposed as an economic development project, rather than as a substitute for the current Metro system. Which would probably mean a routing from Thompson's Point down Commercial to Eastern waterfront, down Franklin to Bayside and across Marginal (which was built wide enough to accomodate rail) or the Bayside Trail, past the Expo/Hadlock, down St. John or Congress St Connector back to Thompson's Point. I don't see anything being viable for Congress St. though... So Bus Priority Corridor it shall be for now...
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Old 06-20-2011, 05:54 PM   #1184
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
Be sure to check out this month's Portland Magazine for the article "Anatomy of a Skyline" with pretty cool pictures.
I am on the Amtrak on the way back to Portland and was pleased to find the usual complimentary Portland magazine. I didn't realize that you wrote the article based on your mentioning of it. Nice work! I would have donated some photos, maybe next time. I recognize most of the photos from one of my Flickr contacts.
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Old 06-20-2011, 07:06 PM   #1185
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Nice article Patrick, you made us proud!
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Old 06-21-2011, 07:38 AM   #1186
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

***The forecaster article talking about the Schwartz building in Congress Square, which has been under construction forever.....


Renovation of historic Portland building remains a work in progress
By Randy Billings
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Jun 20, 2011 3:50 pm
Photo: Randy Billings / The Forecaster

The 1920 Schwartz building at 600 Congress St. in Portland has been boarded up since demolition was finished last October. Renovations are expected to resume soon on the Congress Square building.



Buy a Print
Photo: Randy Billings / The Forecaster

The plywood exterior of 600 Congress St. in Portland has become a popular place to hang fliers and display street art. The Portland Museum of Art is across High Street.



Buy a PrintPORTLAND Since 1920, the Schwartz Building on Congress Square has occupied one of the city's most visible commercial locations.

Thousands of vehicles and hundreds of pedestrians pass through the intersection of Congress and High streets every day.

A major renovation of 600-604 Congress St. began last fall one city officials believe has "the potential to transform this key intersection of downtown," according to city documents.

But since demolition was completed last October, the four-story building topped by a clock tower has become something of a ground-level eyesore, leaving many people wondering whether the project has been abandoned.

"It's proceeding, despite the appearance," said city Economic Development Director Greg Mitchell. "Some of these things just take time."

In October, crews removed the building's ground floor facade. The work used a nearly $11,000 grant from the city's Facade Improvement Plan.

Its large, glass windows have been replaced by sheets of plywood that now function as billboards for everything from announcements about local concerts and summer jobs to going-out-of business sales.

There are also piles of loose bricks and even some street art.

Progress on the building's restoration has been stalled in part by owner Geoffrey Rice's decision to seek tax credits for renovations to the historic building.

But the appearance of the building during the delay could be smudging the city's reputation, just as the tourist season starts.

Janis Beitzer, executive director of Portland's Downtown District, would not discuss how the state of 600 Congress St. could be affecting visitors' perceptions of the city.

But, in general terms, Beitzer said it is important for all property owners to keep their buildings looking good to maintain the city's No. 1 source of economic activity, tourism.

"It's vitally important to our economy that properties always look their best, even when under construction," Beitzer said. "We encourage everyone to keep their properties free of peeling paint, graffiti, posters, litter and construction debris so that visitors have a positive experience while here."

Project architect Jim Sterling said the project has been in the works for about two years and was originally slated to be finished last summer. But it became eligible for tax credits when Congress Street was certified last spring as a historic district.

"That sort of derailed the project," Sterling said.

There are about 2,000 historic properties in eight local historic districts, five historic landscape districts and about 60 individual landmarks in Portland, according to Deb Andrews, the city's historic preservation manager.

When the National Parks Service certified the Congress Street Historic District in May 2010, projects within that district became eligible for tax credits, Andrews said.

Attorney Paul Bulger, who represents Rice on the project, would not provide information about how much in tax credits his client is seeking. But he said Rice had received conditional approval for his requests.

Bulger, however, noted the project is also being delayed by the need to upgrade the electrical supply in the building for what is expected to be a first-floor restaurant.

"That would be the ambition," Bulger said. "But I don't have a lease yet."

Bulger said the project was originally envisioned as $500,000 in fire safety upgrades, including the installation of a sprinkler system, elevator, modern alarm systems and emergency egress.

"That barely scratches the surface," he said of the costs. "Now, it's going to be a much more ambitious project."

The city Economic Development division estimates the project costs will be near $1 million, but Bulger said it will be costlier.

Sterling said the project will also convert about 20 studio apartments, which did not meet minimum standards set by the city, into 12 more modern, spacious apartments.

The project will not trigger the city's housing replacement ordinance, which requires developers to replace lost housing units or pay a fee, since it is preserving the total residential square footage.

Applying for the tax credits is a complex process that requires workers to closely document what they find and remove from the building, Sterling said. It also requires new construction to mirror the previously recorded state.

Sterling said he is currently seeking ways to restore the buildings original facade, which has been hidden several recent renovations. Similar efforts are expected in the interior.

Sterling said the documentation for the tax credits is largely complete, so he expects work to restart within the next few weeks. If it does, the project could be finished by December, he said.

City officials are echoing that optimism, especially since they are counting on the rehab to transform the busy intersection.

"I am very confident we are going to get there," Mitchell said. "It's an important corner for us. We are as anxious as anyone in the community to see what the end use might be."

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings..
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:05 PM   #1187
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

From today:

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Old 06-29-2011, 03:10 PM   #1188
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

More infill housing proposed on York St in The West End, they are proposing to add seven units to the already existing twelve....here is a link to the planning board materials just in case anyone is interested....

http://www.portlandmaine.gov/plannin...ackup_Material
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Old 06-30-2011, 02:21 AM   #1189
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Very suburban site plan. Parking up front, unwelcoming. Could recoup the cost of lost profit due to moving closer to the street from the higher price likely chargeable for greater angle views of the water. Otherwise cool design.
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Old 06-30-2011, 02:25 AM   #1190
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued


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Old 06-30-2011, 06:56 AM   #1191
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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Very suburban site plan. Parking up front, unwelcoming. Could recoup the cost of lost profit due to moving closer to the street from the higher price likely chargeable for greater angle views of the water. Otherwise cool design.
I completely agree, Patrick. I think it looks nice from these renderings but should be right up on the street. In addition to those benefits you noted for the owner and residents of the building, this part of York Street would benefit overall. It's kind of a high-speed off-ramp from the bridge and building a little closer to the road and slowing cars down would be a good thing, I think.
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Old 06-30-2011, 12:44 PM   #1192
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Yes, absolutely, Corey...I wrote an email to the developer before posting that in which I articulated (a little more clearly) the rationale for bringing the building up from an urban design perspective, and then strengthened my plea with an economic argument (for a place named harborview, you think it would make sense to be close to the water). Any lost profit due to increased traffic noise would be mitigated from higher profit due to wider vistas. The developers of this property are bottom line folks--project management and financial investor backgrounds, MBA, etc., not town designers. I applaud their effort anyway, but it could be improved.
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Old 06-30-2011, 01:30 PM   #1193
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

I also agree, and would point out that the developers could make it work by paying one of the adjacent property owners on Park Street for access to a shared driveway leading to a back-of-the-lot parking area.

That said, the views argument is probably less effective in this case b/c the developers also own the brick building directly to the southwest. If they build their new building on the street, their existing tenants will lose some views of Portland Harbor, looking out over the (currently) empty lot next door.
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Old 06-30-2011, 03:47 PM   #1194
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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I also agree, and would point out that the developers could make it work by paying one of the adjacent property owners on Park Street for access to a shared driveway leading to a back-of-the-lot parking area.

That said, the views argument is probably less effective in this case b/c the developers also own the brick building directly to the southwest. If they build their new building on the street, their existing tenants will lose some views of Portland Harbor, looking out over the (currently) empty lot next door.
Good point, however, I think views would be a priority for the new construction (more expensive building), but I could be wrong. Also, I think even without an easement over access ways from Park Street the parking could be out back...just tuck it to the side like every other building.
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Old 06-30-2011, 04:56 PM   #1195
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

So, if it isn't obvious, I have been really interested in the idea of applying Form-Based Codes (which are zoning ordinances focusing more on how buildings look rather than what's in them) as regulatory mechanisms to create better urban design and public spaces. What's interesting is that conventional use-based zoning is often cited for suburban sprawl and thus the question comes up, if we are to re-introduce smart urbanism via FBCs, are form-based codes legal? The answer, it is certain, is yes. The interesting thing is, also, that original zoning codes were not what we are used to today. Reading through Portland's first ordinance, in 1926, proposed by a city planner from Cambridge and the famed architect John Calvin Stevens, I note language requiring retail on the first level of buildings, short commute times, encouragement of tree-lined streets, and other design elements typically associated with new urbanism. The document, in its entirety, is about 10 pages long. Today, chapter 14 (on land use) of the city code, is almost 1,000 pages long.
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Old 06-30-2011, 06:03 PM   #1196
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

^Interesting stuff. I'd like to learn more about the topic someday.

The new Bank of Maine branch is open on Middle Street. The addition of an entrance onto Middle Street is excellent. It begs the question, how was an entrance not put here originally? Perhaps some sort of form based coding and/or common sense could ensure that in the future our buildings have doors on streets that they face.

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Old 06-30-2011, 10:01 PM   #1197
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

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^Interesting stuff. I'd like to learn more about the topic someday.

The new Bank of Maine branch is open on Middle Street. The addition of an entrance onto Middle Street is excellent. It begs the question, how was an entrance not put here originally? Perhaps some sort of form based coding and/or common sense could ensure that in the future our buildings have doors on streets that they face.

thanks for piosting, corey, I agree this is an excellent addition. You know, the weird thing is that when this building was built, it was touted as a bridge between the old port and the downtown, but absent this entrance it just felt a little too private to link anything. it is something anyone who read my article knows I discussed in that, which was written prior to the construction starting on this new entrance. I am glad Solely is keeping his promise to integrate the building better with the surrounding area (he just bought the building). Even more promising, perhaps, is something I noticed on Shinberg Consulting's website, which was a master plan created for the portion of that property across from the portland harbor hotel (currently vacant). And you are right, a form-based code would essentially require (or could require) exactly that sort of thing. street frontage codes are a particular type, and essentially guarantee this sort of thing (assuming that's what the community wants, which is usually the case). I'd be glad to talk to you or point you in the direction of some cool reading on zoning and form based codes if ever you really want to look into the subject. It's basically what I have been doing for work in many ways. I completed the courses from the form based codes institute this month in Providence. http://www.formbasedcodes.org/
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Old 07-04-2011, 05:20 PM   #1198
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Wasn't there a thread for Veteran's Bridge? If so, I can't find it. Here's a photo from yesterday:

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Old 07-05-2011, 04:37 PM   #1199
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Today's Portlandbiz had a story about Tim Soley's plans to further upgrade and enliven Canal Plaza - including a rendering of the preliminary concept. It also mentions that he's looking to "add additional floors to two of the Canal Plaza buildings."

http://www.mainebiz.biz/news48157.html

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Old 07-05-2011, 04:57 PM   #1200
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Re: Portland, ME - New Construction Continued

Sweet! He really should be applauded for his efforts.
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