April 25, 2013

Developers' goal: Transform Congress Square Plaza

Renovators of a nearby hotel now want to turn city-owned space into an event center and a smaller, friendlier park.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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An architect's rendering of the redesigned Congress Square Plaza proposal shows a glass-and-stone addition to the nearby hotel, and a park with 40 feet of frontage along Congress Street.

Canal 5 Studio

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Congress Square Plaza currently is used as a public space.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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"We think this should be a memorial to art," he said.

Councilors asked whether the developers could increase the amount of public space -- by building the addition up, or down into the ground.

Costin said Rockbridge Capital is open to those discussions but the cost would likely make it unfeasible. The event center must be at least 5,000 square feet to be marketable for many corporate events, he said.

After the meeting, members of the Friends of Congress Square Park, which opposes selling the space for development, said they were not impressed with the new design but planned to meet with the development team to get more information.

Joan Grant said the proposed plaza is little more than a "widened sidewalk" and could not host events or public rallies.

Frank Turek, who is leading a petition drive in support of sprucing up the plaza, said he was shocked by the developers' attitude that the corner of Congress and High streets will never be a successful park.

"What the hotel needs is a better gateway to the hotel," Turek said. "I was surprised to see a carbon copy of the plans that were rejected previously."

City Councilor Nicholas Mavodones Jr. said many residents have strong opinions about the plan. He encouraged neighborhood groups and residents to meet with Wennerstrom and Costin to get educated about the proposal.

Wednesday's presentation will be posted on the city's website, along with contact information for the development team.

Some people have already made up their minds "and they haven't even seen anything," Mavodones said. "I suspect there are a lot of people in the middle."

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

rbillings@pressherald.com

Twitter: @randybillings

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Additional Photos

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This artist's rendering of the new Congress Square Plaza plan, pictured from the northwest corner of Congress and High streets, shows the Portland Museum of Art at right and the proposed event center and public space at left.

Courtesy of Rockbridge/Canal 5 Studio

  


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Today's poll: Congress Square Plaza

Do you like the new plan for Congress Square Plaza?

Yes

No

View Results