The Portland Planning Board approved plans Tuesday night for an upscale condominium project and a smaller apartment building on Munjoy Hill, one of the city’s most densely populated neighborhoods.
The board approved the final site and subdivision plans for a project named 118 on Munjoy Hill, a 12-unit condo complex at 118 Congress St.
Members also agreed to forward an unusual request to the City Council after some officials expressed concerns that roof decks overhanging the sidewalk on Congress Street might pose a safety hazard in winter because of falling snow and ice. They asked that the council negotiate a fee for air rights in exchange for allowing the decks to hang 16 inches over the sidewalk in front of the building.
Other than those concerns, Planning Board members praised the project, which will cost more than $5 million, according to documents filed with the Planning Department.
“I really like this project,” said board member Bill Hall. “It’s the perfect use of a lot on Munjoy Hill.”
The four-story condo development, with units selling for more than a half-million dollars, will be built on a lot next to the Munjoy Hill fire substation, within few hundred feet of the Portland Observatory.
An existing business will be demolished to accommodate the structure. Two businesses will be on the first floor, and condo units will be on the upper floors.
The two- and three-bedroom condos, designed by Archetype Architects, will range in size from 1,380 to 2,021 square feet, with pricing starting in the “upper $500,000s,” according to the 118 on Munjoy Hill website.
“The proposed residences will be designed for urban professionals and Baby Boomers/Empty Nesters desiring a city home,” according to documents filed with the city’s Planning Department.
Chip Newell and Susan Morris, representing the New-Height Group, which is developing the project, said 118 on Munjoy Hill will be at the “peak of Munjoy Hill,” providing residents with “expansive views and decks.”
The building will have an enclosed, 18-space parking garage at Congress and St. Lawrence streets.
A handful of residents submitted written opposition to the board, mostly stemming from the City Council’s decision to increase the height limit by 5 feet for the building. Residents said the building will be too large and rob surrounding properties of daylight. They also expressed concern about parking issues that could arise over two retail tenants, as well as safety concerns about balconies that overhang the sidewalks.
“I think it’s refreshing to see a project come before us that does not create that monolithic feeling,” said board member Elizabeth Boepple.
The Planning Board also approved another, smaller residential development on Munjoy Hill late Tuesday night.
Sheridan Street Apartments is a five-unit residential development to be built on a steep slope off Sheridan Street. Because of the land’s 45-degree slope, New Day Farm LLC will build the Sheridan Street Apartments using pier supports as tall as 14 feet for the ground floor.
The $1.5 million project, also designed by Archetype Architects, would add five market-rate units at 152-156 Sheridan St., behind the Maine Department of Corrections office on Washington Avenue.
The top-floor unit, which would be about 2,400 square feet and include a large outdoor deck, would be built for a heart surgeon who wants to live on Munjoy Hill. The four apartments – one townhouse and three flats, starting at 1,300 square feet – would be rented, but could be sold as condos in the future.
The projects are two of many proposals approved or envisioned on Munjoy Hill.
The Planning Board recently approved 29 market-rate townhouses on Walnut Street. More than 80 housing units are under construction and 32 more have been approved at the base of Munjoy Hill, at India and Hancock streets. Six condos are proposed on Lafayette Street.
The development boom is prompting the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization to become more proactive in the city planning process. President Andrea Myhaver said the group is establishing objective criteria for determining which development projects to support.
“Suddenly, a lot of things have cropped up. We need to make some educated and methodical conditions,” Myhaver said Tuesday afternoon. “We don’t want to react emotionally.”
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]
Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: [email protected]