As an owner of historic properties, I can’t so much as replace an entry door without first having a plan and getting approval. Why, pray tell, has the city of Portland allowed the new owners of the historic Portland Company properties to get so far down the path without plans for reuse of the site? They want to demolish part of our heritage, but they haven’t even adequately explained what for and why we, the people, acting through you, our elected representatives, should let those buildings be demolished.

We have heard that it will cost a lot to rehab the Portland Company. But there are abundant federal and state tax credits and grants available to help meet the cost. If there is a gap between rehab costs and available grants and tax credits, surely the value of the refurbished buildings in one of Portland’s “prime” locations would attract corporations or nonprofits willing to make up the difference in rent or purchase price.

Imagine a creative or technical hub, underwritten by Google or Microsoft or Apple, with all the amenities of that location, and employees living nearby in condos or apartments in renovated Portland Company buildings.

All of the historic preservation decisions should have been made before any rezoning by the city. The city has put the cart before the horse by giving our cultural heritage and that of our children away on a rezoning assuring the developer that the troublesome “historic” buildings would be cleared away! Let’s hope that Historic Preservation and the Planning Board and Council preserve the maximum future value of that site by safeguarding, at a minimum, Buildings 1 to 4. Let us preserve what little of our history we have left for the good of the many vs. the benefit to a few.

Donna Schwartz