A local developer has submitted plans for a six-story residential building in the India Street neighborhood of Portland, an area of intense planning efforts over the last few years.

The Luminato Condominium would consist of 26 units of ownership condos, which would be built on top of a basement parking garage at 167 and 169 Newbury St. Unit prices would begin in the $200,000 range for a one bedroom to the $400,000 range for three-bedroom units.

Developer Chip Newell described the units as market rate, but indicated that the goal was to make the mortgage payment equal to what someone would pay for a new apartment in the city. He hopes the project will be affordable to young professionals and in some ways address the city’s shortage of workforce housing.

“We think that what Portland needs is exciting housing for young professionals and that’s what we’re trying to create,” Newell said.

The housing project is being proposed at a time when the City Council is closely examining ways to address a housing shortage that is driving up rents and pricing many middle-income earners out of the city. The situation was detailed in the Portland Press Herald’s “No Vacancy” series.

The project is being planned on the same site that S. Donald Sussman, a wealthy hedge-fund manager and philanthropist, received planning approvals for a condo project that never got off the ground. Newell said he bought three parcels from Sussman in late 2015, but declined to provide details.

Newell said two vacant three-story apartment buildings at 167 and 169 Newbury St. would be demolished, while a three-unit building at 42 Hampshire St. would remain. Two of those units are occupied, but the third unit is being converted into an office.

The $8 million project would be subject to three ordinances that were adopted or modified in recent years.

First, it would be subject to the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance, adopted in October, which requires all new housing developments of 10 or more units to include one unit of workforce housing. Newell said the two mandatory workforce housing units would be located on Hampshire Street.

Since one of the Hampshire Street units is being converted into an office, the project triggers the housing replacement ordinance, a rule adopted in 2002 and amended in January that either requires developers to pay a nearly $65,000 fee for every displaced unit or replace the unit. Newell said the unit will be replaced in the new condo building.

Finally, this is the first project to be reviewed under the new form-based code, adopted in November, which is more concerned with how a building looks, rather than its use.

Newell said the project would include 16 one-bedroom units, which would range in size from 500 to 740 square feet. There would also be about six two-bedroom units, ranging from 1,000 to 1,100 square feet, and four three-bedroom units, ranging from 1,500 to 1,800 square feet.

The underground parking garage would accommodate 27 vehicles, according to planning documents filed with the city.

Newell, who partnered with Sussman to build 118 Congress St., a high-end condo complex aimed at wealthy baby boomers, said interest in the new development is strong, despite the fact he has not advertised it. He said 35 to 40 people have already expressed interest.

India Street is one of Portland’s most historic neighborhoods. It was the site of Portland’s first settlers, and was burned to the ground on three occasions. Once established, it became a vibrant neighborhood of newly arrived immigrants and was once referred to as “Little Italy.”

India Street, combined with East Bayside, is the city’s smallest neighborhood with less than 1,000 units of housing and 2,460 residents, which is 3.7 percent of the city’s total population of 66,000. The two neighborhoods, which share a census tract, are also the most diverse, with nearly 46 percent of the residents being non-white, compared to 14 percent citywide, and one of the poorest.

However, those demographics are shifting. The India Street neighborhood has been the center of some of the most ambitious condo developments in recent years.


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