December 12, 2013

Another View: ‘Midtown’ would help bring vision for Bayside to fruition

Portland should grab the opportunity this developer offers to meet the neighborhood plan’s goals.

By Jeffrey Levine and Mark Rees

Re: “Maine Voices: Building a megaplex isn’t the way to make Portland’s Bayside neighborhood better” (Nov. 30):

about the authors

Jeffrey Levine is director of planning and urban development for the city of Portland, and Mark Rees is city manager of Portland.

For more than 15 years, Portland has been working to redevelop the Bayside neighborhood in a way that captures the essence of urban living. Following the guide of “A New Vision for Bayside,” the city has invested in new streets, sidewalks, lighting and trails. This work has attracted grocery stores, offices, retail and housing. The “midtown” project is an important part of this effort.

The 1999 plan asked the city to acquire the railroad land on which both the Bayside Trail and the midtown project are located. It states that “the rail corridor is centrally located, and its future disposition for infrastructure and development purposes will be an important resource in bringing the plan to fruition.”

The Bayside plan further states that there should be more housing: “A true urban district has a healthy mix of residences, and Bayside needs more housing to be a stable and vital neighborhood.” The midtown project will complement the Bayside Trail and bring this vision to fruition.

The project will include a range of heights that is appropriate for urban redevelopment. It will provide for centralized structured parking in Bayside that will allow the opportunity for surface parking lots nearby to be redeveloped. In addition, it will improve drainage and reduce flooding in the area through private and public investment.

If we miss this opportunity, we may not find another developer who is willing to meet the Bayside plan’s goals for this site for some time.

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