March 16, 2013

India Street neighborhood takes the long view

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Hugh Nazor, founder of the India Street Neighborhood Association, says after Franklin Arterial was built in the 1960s and severed the neighborhood from the Old Port, "this little pocket here continually bled residents. ... the whole place went downhill."

Tim Greenway / Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

This photo, taken after the Great Fire of 1866, shows the area that is now the corner of Middle and India streets looking toward Congress Street.

Archival image courtesy of Maine Historic Preservation Commission

Additional Photos Below

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TODAY'S MEETING

WHO: Sustain Southern Maine

WHEN: 12:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Maine Jewish Museum, 267 Congress St., Portland

Montreal sent back grain supplies, which were stored on the waterfront and shipped to points in New England and overseas.

India Street was also the heart of a thriving neighborhood and a popular place for wealthy and middle-class families.

The era of growth came to an abrupt end when the neighborhood was virtually destroyed by the Great Fire of 1866.

SHOULD BE 'DOWNTOWN ADJACENT'

After the fire, India Street never regained its prestige.

The core of downtown Portland shifted into what is today's Old Port. Wealthy residents began taking up residence on the West and East ends of the city, leaving India Street largely to middle-income Italian and Jewish immigrants, Shettleworth said.

In 1967, about 100 residences that were home to many Italian families were demolished to make way for Franklin Arterial, which effectively severed the neighborhood from the downtown.

"This little pocket here continually bled residents," said Hugh Nazor, secretary of the India Street Neighborhood Association. "The whole place went downhill."

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the neighborhood has 362 homes, 310 of which are rental units.

Of the 473 people who lived there in 2010, the vast majority were white (421), followed by Asians (20) and blacks/African Americans (14).

Its residents tend to be younger than those in other parts of the city -- from their mid-20s to mid-30s -- with areas that have higher concentrations of baby boomers.

Until recently, Nazor said, India Street has not been considered a distinct neighborhood by city planners. Its zoning is the result of planning efforts for four other areas -- East Bayside, the downtown, Munjoy Hill and the eastern waterfront.

India Street should be considered a "downtown adjacent" neighborhood rather than being incorporated into the downtown district, he said. As such, remaining historic buildings should be preserved and future buildings should be limited to three stories, he said.

Nazor points to downtown zoning that was extended to eastern waterfront lots and could allow buildings as tall as 65 feet in the neighborhood.

Such a height limit, he said, could open the door to "the largest mistake made on the peninsula in decades -- that's the parking garage."

Sustain Southern Maine's work will eventually be included in a neighborhood-wide plan, said Jeff Levine, the city's planning director.

The city had hoped to begin work on that plan soon, but it still lacks funding for the roughly $100,000 study.

Levine said the city will move forward with a survey to determine which buildings are historic and should be preserved. But the rest of the neighborhood plan is being put on hold.

"It's a priority for us to find the funding," Levine said.

The Sustain Southern Maine project is a step in the right direction for the historic neighborhood, he said. "We see this as part of establishing a good baseline for that plan." 

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

rbillings@pressherald.com

Twitter: @randybillings

 

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Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

History and architecture will be among the topics of Saturday's meeting about the future of the India Street neighborhood in Portland. Today, the community includes businesses such as Coffee By Design and Amato's on India Street, as well as St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church on Federal Street.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

History and architecture will be among the topics of Saturday's meeting about the future of the India Street neighborhood in Portland. Today, the community includes businesses such as Coffee By Design and Amato's on India Street, as well as St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church on Federal Street.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge



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