Developers of a senior housing complex proposed on the grounds of the historic Sisters of Mercy convent on Stevens Avenue in Portland have reached an agreement with neighbors to limit the size of the project.

John Thibodeau of the Preserve Deering Neighborhood group said he has negotiated a deal with Sea Coast Management to limit the number of units to be built on the property to 249, a reduction of 85 units.

“I think we reached a compromise that both parties feel good about,” Thibodeau said.

The deal follows a 5-2 vote by the City Council early on the morning of June 16 to put off a decision on the controversial proposal to rezone about 17 acres in Deering Center for the project.

Kevin Bunker, who negotiated the agreement on behalf of Sea Coast Management, said he felt that the company would have enough votes once all nine councilors were present, but rather than “go to the mat” on a larger project, negotiating with neighbors would cool what had become a contentious issue.

Bunker said the reduction was significant, but in the interest of compromise, he felt that everyone would benefit.

“Change is inevitable, but we’re not here to ruin your quality of life,” Bunker said. “We have an interest in preserving your quality of life.”

The rezoning proposal, which was recommended for approval by the Planning Board, will be taken up again by the City Council on July 6.

Bunker, of the Portland-based Developers Collaborative, is a partner in the redevelopment of the Sisters of Mercy Mother House, which was completed in 1908.

Sea Coast Management will be the lead developer of buildings expected to be built behind the historic brick convent.

Neighbors have vehemently opposed the scale of the project, and in the last two months gathered signatures, organized meetings and turned out in force at public hearings to oppose the development.

Catherine McAuley High School, which occupies a portion of the property and uses much of the land for playing fields, supports the project and would remain at the site as a tenant for at least 25 years.

Although pleased with the lower number of units, Thibodeau said he still has concerns about the effect of the construction on nearby Baxter Woods, the traffic that hundreds of new housing units would bring, and whether McAuley would retain a regulation-size playing field.

Bunker said the project will have several layers of future review and chances for the public to participate and give input.

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