Portland officials and a developer are moving forward with aspects of a more than $100 million high-rise housing complex in the Bayside neighborhood even as opponents continue to fight the project in court.

A Portland City Council committee unanimously endorsed plans on Wednesday to raise the elevation of Somerset Street between Pearl and Elm streets to improve pedestrian/vehicle access and address flooding problems in the low-lying area a few blocks from Back Cove.

The city would pick up two-thirds of the estimated $4 million price tag through a combination of federal loans and grants, reserves and new debt while Federated Companies – the developer of the four, 165-foot-tall Midtown towers – will pay the remaining third, or $1.3 million. The financial aspects of the agreement must be reviewed by the City Council’s Finance Committee before the package is sent to the full council for consideration.

In addition, the Housing and Community Development Committee endorsed a plan calling for the city to oversee the environmental cleanup of the former New England Metal Recycling property where the Midtown project would be built. Federated Companies will pay for the cleanup, however.

Those two projects – as well as the entire development – are contingent on the outcome of a lawsuit seeking to overturn the city’s approval of the Midtown towers plan.

Federated Companies hopes to build 650 to 850 market-rate apartments in four towers that will stand about 15 stories each on a narrow, 3.4-acre strip of city-owned land near Back Cove.

The development plans approved by the Portland Planning Board in January also call for two garages with more than 1,000 parking spaces and 100,000 square feet of retail space. Federated Companies will purchase the land from the city for $2,408,000, according to revised figures released Wednesday.

A group called Keep Portland Livable filed suit in Superior Court challenging the Planning Board decision on more than a half-dozen counts. Those included claims that the project was inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive plan and zoning ordinances and that city officials violated Maine’s Freedom of Access Act by failing to maintain records of the hearings.

A judge dismissed some of the individual appeals filed by Keep Portland Livable while allowing others to proceed. A decision is not expected for months, however, as the parties continue to argue their cases through briefs filed with the court.

Greg Shinberg, Federated Companies’ local representative, said the developer is confident it will prevail in court and wants to push ahead with key components of the plan while the case plays out.

“They are fully committed to the project,” Shinberg said after Wednesday’s committee meeting. “They see Bayside as a growth area and this will be good for the city.”

Portland’s housing market is notoriously tight, reflecting the city’s growing reputation for its food, cultural and recreational scenes. The city’s rental availability has hovered around 2 percent in recent years, well below the 7 percent vacancy rate considered healthy. So the Midtown towers’ 650-plus units – all priced for the market rather than subsidized – are viewed by supporters as a welcome addition in an area of Portland ripe for development.

But Peter Monro, co-founder of Keep Portland Livable, said his organization views the project as setting a dangerous precedent by allowing the city to bypass or bend its own rules in order to approve a project supported by city officials.

“We think this is a massive test case and needs to be fought to demonstrate that the rules, the process and the comprehensive plan not only have legal standing but that they have clout,” Monro said.

Shinberg said the developer hopes to begin work on the towers next spring. The first phase of the project, as outlined in updated documents approved by the committee on Wednesday, would involve construction of a minimum of 174 residential units, 700 parking spaces and at least 37,486 square feet of retail space.