Thursday, April 17, 2014
By Greg Shinberg
The enthusiasm the citizens of Portland have for their city is inspiring, and in our estimation this serves a greater good – which is to create a better place for its stakeholders, whether that’s its residents, visitors or businesses.
Greg Shinberg represents The Federated Cos., the developer of midtown in the Bayside neighborhood.
We believe that our objective with ‘‘midtown” – to create a project that will revitalize the Bayside area and create a vibrant and walkable neighborhood – is consistent with its citizens’ goals.
Federated’s midtown will help to solve two major issues facing the Bayside neighborhood; a shortage of market-rate housing and insufficient parking.
Both issues need to be resolved if a truly vibrant, livable neighborhood is to be achieved.
New residential construction is imperative as the current housing stock is out of balance due to demand exceeding supply.
Midtown will provide residential units with the latest technological conveniences, a best-in-class amenity package and modern energy efficiencies that will greatly reduce utility costs – all benefits that are sorely needed in the marketplace.
While promoting a carefree lifestyle at midtown, we also recognize that this may be impractical for many residents.
Therefore, we need to supply enough parking to meet both midtown’s demand as well as the need that currently exists in the Bayside area.
We are committed to helping solve this problem by building two parking garages designed to be screened from public view and allow for nonresidents to more easily commute into the neighborhood.
It’s essential in any viable mixed-use community that promotes fewer cars to have a retail program that provides residents with their daily needs
The already existing grocery stores, fitness centers and retail help, and we hope to complement this convenience by adding restaurants, markets and shops and enhance the streetscape with al fresco dining, public gathering places, sculpture installations and wall murals.
We are actively soliciting retail tenants that provide a neighborhood benefit, create an area of activity and promote the use of the Bayside Trail.
As stated above, midtown hopes to solve two of the most pressing issues for the Bayside community.
In addition to this, midtown will also be an economic boon that will have a ripple effect on the area. There are both temporary and permanent economic benefits that will be a result of midtown.
On a temporary basis, over many years, the project will inject significant capital into the local economy in the form of material/supply purchasing and the creation of construction jobs.
Construction wages in the Portland area, according to 2012 Maine Department of Labor figures, average $23.01 per hour, roughly $10 higher than leisure and hospitality industry wages, and $5 more than trade, transport and utility wages.
In fact, construction wages in the Portland area lag only manufacturing, by 60 cents per hour, and professional and business services by 2 cents.
These high wages will have a spending multiplier effect that will directly help the local economy and result in the creation of additional jobs.
On a permanent basis, the economic benefit of the project will be positive.
There will be an increase in the ongoing property taxes, a greater tax basis from the retailers generating revenue, a creation of permanent jobs from the apartments and retailers as well as a spending multiplier effect that will result from these other direct economic benefits.
Furthermore, and arguably most importantly, the project will provide a housing option that may spur new high-growth businesses to locate in Bayside and further our collective objective of a vibrant, livable community.
As with all projects, and more accurately, with change comes opposition.
We understand that people are hesitant to support something before it exists.
To help assuage these concerns we have gone to great lengths to meet and listen to all stakeholders who desired to speak with us and found that their constructive criticism was invaluable and made for a better project.
Unfortunately, and to the detriment of the entire community, there are those whose primary objective is to obstruct this project – with no constructive criticism or sense of what it takes to make a project viable – and ironically this vocal minority declined to meet with us.
We know that we can never make these people happy but we are resolved to see midtown through, as we are too passionate about its benefits and have made too many commitments to the vast majority of stakeholders that desperately want this project to thrive and move forward.
— Special to the Press Herald