A group of investors looking to redevelop the historic Portland Co. complex on the eastern waterfront in Portland is hoping to allay concerns about proposed building heights by showing that it would not completely blot out water views from existing houses on Fore Street and would allow for public access and views to the waterfront.

Several property owners along Fore Street have written to the Planning Board to express fears about being walled off from the water and an informal group calling itself Keep the Soul of Portland in the Portland Company has formed to influence the project.

Last week, the developer, CPB2 LLC, submitted additional plans showing the potential impact. Those plans show three so-called view corridors as wide as the rights of way along Atlantic, St. Lawrence and Waterville streets that would provide site lines and public access to the water.

The new plans also show that most of the building heights would rise roughly 25 feet above Fore Street, which is about two stories high. At no point would any building rise higher than 35 feet, or three stories, above Fore Street, a height that is actually lower than the existing houses.

“It only hits that limit in two sections,” said Kevin Costello, a member of the CPB2 development team. “(Existing residents) will have a neighbor across the street, but it’s not a neighbor that blocks the sunshine.”

The new plans were submitted at the request of the Planning Board, which on Nov. 18 conducted a site walk of the 10-acre property and held a workshop.

“They’re close to having a public hearing,” said Jeff Levine, director of planning and urban development for the city. “(Board members) are just working their way through the issues as methodically as possible.”

CPB2, which is led by local developers Casey Prentice and Jim Brady, is asking the city to change the zoning of the 10-acre site to allow for a mixed-used development that could include a hotel, residences, restaurants, retail, and public plazas and parks.

Rezoning the property, which at one point sits 88 feet below Fore Street, would allow for taller buildings – in some cases as tall as 65 feet – and a wider range of uses on the site, including residential.

The eastern waterfront has already been the subject of a planning process that envisions the type of zoning changes being sought at 58 Fore St., which features old brick buildings that date back to the mid-1800s, to allow for taller buildings and residential uses. That master plan was included in the city’s comprehensive plan in 2004.

A study by Sutherland Conservation & Consulting states that the Portland Co. complex has national historic significance because it appears to be the country’s first and only remaining site where all aspects of manufacturing railroad equipment – from the foundry to the machine and car shops – were housed in a single facility.

While a portion of the eastern waterfront has already been rezoned in accordance with the plan, the Portland Co. complex has not been.

“It’s a good plan that went through an extensive public process,” Costello said. “Ultimately, we feel it is a good plan. The Eastern Waterfront Master Plan is very much in line with what we want to do.”

The rezoning request is unusual, however, because the developers have not submitted a conceptual plan outlining their vision for the site. But it’s not because they don’t have one – they do and Costello said they’re willing to show it to community groups.

Barbara Vestal is a lead organizer for Keep the Soul of Portland, a loose-knit group with an email list of about 50 people. The group has six primary concerns about the project, most stemming from a lack of publicly available information about the future development plan.

“We don’t know what they’re proposing,” said Vestal, a Fore Street resident who said her view could be affected. “We haven’t seen a plan yet.”

Vestal, who has not requested a meeting with the developer, said the group is concerned that harbor vistas would be reduced to “slivers” and that the project would lack affordable housing, making it an attractive area for vacation homes. The group wants waterfront uses and historic buildings preserved, she said.

The best way to ensure these concerns are addressed is through a conditional zoning agreement that would bind the developer to a specific development plan, she said.

The group is planning to meet Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. at East End Community School to discuss the development plan with city planners.

“Our goal is not to stop the development,” Vestal said. “We think it will be a better project if it responds to the concerns we’ve raised.”

Costello said the team decided to hold off on submitting its plan for the development until after the rezoning request is finalized, because it doesn’t want people to focus on conceptual plans that could change in the future.

Although its vision for the future use of the property is tentative, the development team plans to save nine of the dozen or so historic buildings on site, which it calls the “historic core.”

The building that hosts a popular flower show could be converted into a market, such as Faneuil Hall in Boston. Nearby, a new building could be built on the eastern portion of the site for a few restaurants, similar to, but about half the size of, Liberty Wharf in Boston, Costello said. Other existing buildings could be renovated to provide places for artists and tradespeople to make and sell their wares. The marina on site could be expanded.

Costello said the streets could be shared by pedestrians and vehicles and would not have curbing. The team is looking to include corridors and plazas connecting Fore Street to the waterfront and a public park along the water.

Two- and three-story townhouses could be built along Fore Street and into a steep hillside, he said. Another residential building could be built at Thames and Fore streets, along with a hotel near the water.

“We’re not hiding anything,” Costello said. “We’re trying to meet with as many people as possible.”

That approach has the support of planning staff, said Levine, noting that a similar approach was used by J.B. Brown & Sons in the fall of 2013 when it requested and received new zoning for its property at York and High streets where El Rayo is located.

“The advantage is it encourages us to think theoretically,” Levine said. “I think sometimes we focus on the development plan, but those plans can change.”

The Planning Board was scheduled to have a third workshop on the zone change request on Jan. 13, but Levine said that will likely be rescheduled for February.

The board will send a recommendation to the City Council, which has final say over the rezoning. If approved, the developer will submit a master plan for the site.

The Historic Preservation Board will also discuss whether to designate some or all of the buildings on the site as historic landmarks.