The B-6 Mixed-Use zone, and accompanying B6 Building Height Overlay map, received unanimous recommendation by the Portland Planning Board on February 24, 2015 and was adopted by the City Council with a vote of 7-2 on June 1st, in line with the Eastern Waterfront Master Plan, the comprehensive plan document that presides over the 58 Fore site. The Height Overlay map calls for 3 – 6 stories across the 58 Fore Street site, as measured from average grade.
Prior to the City Council vote, the CPB2 team worked for more than eight months with the City planning staff and neighboring community, both listening to staff’s recommendations as well as addressing comments that emerged from meetings with Munjoy Hill neighbors looking to retain their views. The CPB2 team heard from our neighbors that there was a desire to restrict a few uses they felt were incompatible with the eastern portion of Fore Street.
CPB2 team was amenable to making several accommodations on its rezoning application to address these comments and interest groups, including:
The Eastern Waterfront Master Plan focuses on connecting the community to the property through increased access to the water. The best way to achieve this connectivity is to build contextually on the Fore Street frontage, essentially creating a front door for the site; This will result in impressive sight lines the waters of Casco Bay, as well as direct access to the waterfront – the neighborhood will finally be able to walk through the site, directly to the water’s edge.
A: This is a very important question, and one that has been subject to some misleading interpretations, so CPB2 wants to make sure our neighbors are properly informed. The B6 Height Overlay Map can be complicated, but it’s very effective in managing future heights on 58 Fore Street property. On the Fore Street frontage, buildings heights will average 2 stories above the Fore Street grade adjacent to it. In a few areas, 3 stories are possible. This is very much in context with the existing neighborhood - the majority, if not all, of the houses currently on Fore Street are 4 stories. Homes on Fore Street today will retain their views on upper floors. Of course, future development will also require the large view spances created by the view corridors required in the height overlay. CPB2 envisions that these areas will also provide public access to our neighbors so that people will finally be able to walk directly down to the water from Munjoy Hill and Fore Street. We’d be happy to meet with neighbors, or explain the height topic further, and you can find links to the sections created in partnership with the Portland Planning Staff.
A: Although the primary path of the MNGRR and Eastern Promenade trail are within a MaineDOT-owned strip of land abutting our property, we share the community’s desire to maintain these amenities. We are very supportive of incorporating and accommodating the Maine Narrow Gauge RR and the Eastern Promenade Trail into our future development vision. Please see our news section for the press release that details collaborative agreement reached with MNGRR on their lease extension to 2017 on the 58 Fore Street site.
A: Absolutely. We remain at the early stages of a multi-step process. The rezoning of the site was adopted in June 2015. There will be City Council public hearing on February 18th to vote on the unanimous Planning Board’s recommendation of a local historic district for the 58 Fore Street site. Once the Historic Preservation Board’s local historic district nomination has been voted on by City Council, future development proposals will be required to be reviewed by the Planning Board in a fully public process. This includes future master development plan applications as well as future site plan applications. The Planning Board will review these future applications for conformance with the following;
A: While Portland Yacht Services has relocated to the Western waterfront in their New Yard site, virtually all other current tenants will have the opportunity, and are encouraged, to stay on site. Portland Yacht Services continues to lease the marina from CPB2 and run their marina business as they have done for many years.
A: CPB2’s redevelopment vision places great importance on creating the ability for our neighbors to walk directly through the site to the water’s edge – it is one of our most important design guidelines. The focus on increasing the public’s access to the water’s edge is also the single most prominent topic in the Eastern Waterfront Master Plan as is noted in the preamble of the plan, “The water is the most precious resource we have.” CPB2 is entirely supportive of this vision and has already made strides towards achieving this goal. CPB2 also envisions redeveloping, and substantially enlarging, the marina on the site. The marina development will increase the number of transient slips available to Portland, and Casco Bay, residents.
A: Yes, definitely – public spaces are the key to creating a vibrant neighborhood. In line with the both the Eastern Waterfront Master Plan as well as the Design Guidelines, public space will be a critical component to a successful development of the site and act to promote the vitality the CPB2 team envisions.
A: Yes we have been aware of, and focused on this topic since the acquisition of the site in 2014. At this early stage, we need to establish a zone change that will inform our planning for the site, but rest assured that any future planning on the site will take the sea level rise discussion into account.
A: The vision for the 58 Fore Street site is to provide a diverse mix of housing, both rental as well as for sale, small units, and larger units. 58 Fore Street site is roughly 10 acres and the B-6 zoning that was recommended for the property, as part of the Eastern Waterfront Master Plan, calls for a vibrant, mixed use, redevelopment on the site. In order to ensure the redevelopment meets the vibrancy of an urban setting, it will be necessary to produce a wide variety of housing stock, both rental and for sale. This past spring, CPB2 engaged RCLCO, a nationally renown development consultant, to commission a development opportunity matrix for the site. According to RCLCO, “there remains a significant opportunity for additional housing to serve a diverse range of household types and price points". RCLCO noted that the Portland market is a smaller urban market and it will be imperative for absorption to deliver a diverse mix of housing, targeting the various markets, including mix of rental as well as for sale, small units, and larger units. This diverse housing supply is critical to the vibrancy of the retail portion of the redevelopment as well. The CPB2 team has been dedicated to delivering a diverse housing supply even prior to the acquisition of the property, and this theme has been prominent in our design principles from the very beginning.
This is not at all in line with the vision of the CPB2 team. When CPB2 acquired the property two years ago, it was with the vision of reinvigorating this underutilized portion of the waterfront so it could be delivered back to the people of Portland. Although the site currently operates as a semi-private property, the goal is for the redevelopment to mirror the charm and public draw of the existing Old Port. The CPB2 team is focused on bringing people to the waterfront 7 days a week, 12 months a year. The only way to achieve this is to create a vibrant, mixed use redevelopment on the site that is focused on diversity across all uses, and in particular with the housing component. It’s very important for people to know that it’s not just a matter of CPB2’s vision, the Eastern Waterfront Master Plan, and the accompanying design guidelines will be both the city’s and communities’ guide in controlling future development on the site.