PORTLAND – The Planning Board on Tuesday sent a proposal to bring an additional 39 market-rate condominiums to the peninsula back to the drawing board.

Board members mostly cited concerns over the architectural design, which they described as a “monolithic block” and a “sea container plopped on a brick building,” as well as a lack of information about how the parking would be managed. The board will revisit the proposal on Oct. 22.

“I don’t want to see projects that are going to be around for 100 years that we can’t take pride in,” said board member Jack Soley. “The building still reads flat to me.”

The proposal for the Seaport Lofts on Newbury Street envisions a five-story, 45-foot-tall building with seven town houses and 32 market-rate condominiums. The site, across from the 86-unit Bay House development, now serves as a parking lot.

Architect David White argued that the design was hard to judge because the image was of poor quality and lacked proper shading. He noted that the 230-foot-long building facade on Newbury Street had seven recessed areas along with balconies on the upper floors.

White brought in samples of building materials, showing the visual contrast between red brick and aluminum siding, as well as gray brick and aluminum siding.

“There’s a lot of product being built that looks like this,” board member Sean Dundon said.

Compatibility with the surrounding neighborhood was also a concern.

The India Street neighborhood has been the focus of community members and planners. A group called, Sustain Southern Maine, recently drafted concept plans for the area based on community feedback.

Those results, which are nonbinding, will be considered in area-wide planning process that city will undertake.

Board members noted the importance of a project that would bring market-rate housing to the peninsula.

Brokers for the Bay House condos recently said 60 percent of those units are already under contract. Buyers are mostly baby boomers, about half of whom are from out of state.

“This is an important project that will fill a need in this city,” board member Elizabeth Boepple said. “All the more reason to get it right.”

 

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybillings