November 18, 2013

Developers: Portland high-rise won’t pose wind threat

Concern that Bayside’s ‘midtown’ project could create a dangerous wind tunnel is being addressed, they say.

By Randy Billings
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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A rendering shows the Somerset Street elevations of Midtown, a plan proposed by the Miami-based Federated Companies for up to four residential towers and a parking garage on roughly three acres of vacant city-owned land on Somerset Street, Portland, Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. Drawing courtesy The Federated Companies

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Related Documents

Read the 'midtown' wind assessment report

“It’s Maine. It’s winter. That’s just how it works here,” Shinberg said. “Most people are not going to be sitting out there during the winter.”

Winds are less of an issue during the summer, when wind speeds are slower and the weather is warmer. Summer winds primarily come out of the south-southwest, which means they are impeded by taller buildings on the peninsula.

Wind speeds between 19 and 27 mph are generally considered uncomfortable for walking, according to the report. Anytime the wind reaches 27 mph or higher, the current is considered dangerous, the report states.

While the study concludes that the area will not reach those dangerous levels after it is developed, Monro criticized the report for not backing up that assertion with numbers.

Morrissette said she was comfortable with how the firm reached its conclusions.

“From what I understand from ... reading the report is that we’re borderline,” Morrissette said on the wind impacts. “We have to figure out where the issues are in reality when it gets built.”

Shinberg noted that the project designers, CBT Architects of Boston, have experience dealing with wind issues in Boston, where they have designed 50- and 60-story buildings.

“These are not dangerous winds,” Shinberg said. Noting that if wind speeds are too intense, then no one will want to live there, he said, “It’s clearly in our best interest to do everything we can to mitigate the wind.”

Shinberg said architects are working on redesigning portions of the building’s exterior to further reduce wind. Those revised plans will be submitted before the Planning Board’s Dec. 10 public hearing on the project. He could not provide an estimate for how much the alterations would cost.

The wind study also includes a list of recommendations to further reduce the impact of the wind. Those recommendations include vertical and horizontal wind screens and evergreen plantings.

The city is asking the developer to draft a wind management plan before the board votes. The developer will then be asked to monitor wind speeds after the first tower is built and implement changes as needed.

“We’d like to make sure the results of the study play out on the ground,” Levine said. “We just want to make sure it’s worth it.”


Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:rbillings@pressherald.comTwitter: @randybillings

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