For just the third time in six years, a developer will be required to purchase “air rights” from the city of Portland in order to complete a construction project.

Developers of the upscale Verdante condominium project along Franklin Street have applied for a license agreement that would permit them to build bay windows that jut out over the public right of way.

Since the license has a fee – $12,123, in this case – it requires approval by the Portland City Council, which will consider the request Monday.

Christine Grimando, the city’s planning and urban development director, said the request is unusual but not controversial.

“We have similar requirements for any encroachment of private property on public way at the ground level, too,” she said. “But this isn’t something that comes up that often.”

Since she started six years ago, Grimando said, she can remember only two other instances – one for a recent project on Thames Street, another for a condo at 118 Congress St. on Munjoy Hill – where license agreements for air rights were needed.

The Munjoy Hill project was developed by the same company as Verdante, NewHeight Group. Chip Newell, the firm’s principal, said when he proposed that condo project and went before the city with plans, they hadn’t seen anything like it.

“It’s something other cities have dealt with but hadn’t come up here,” he said.

Grimando said she doesn’t know if more developers will be interested in including similar features that would necessitate air rights, but the city would consider them on a case-by-case basis.

“There is not a maximum allowable amount of space or anything,” she said. “It’s more about, are there impacts we need to consider, like dripping snow or ice on sidewalks, for instance.”

Construction on the Verdante project, a $13 million, six-story, 31-unit building, already is underway and is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020. Newell said 14 units have been pre-sold.

The Verdante building is located next to another NewHeight Group development, a 24-unit condo known as Luminato, that was completed in 2017 and is sold out. That area of the Portland peninsula has been among the most attractive for new Portland residents.

The bay windows at Verdante that necessitated the air rights request would hang over a public right of way on both Franklin and Federal streets.

The 31 units range in size from 400 square feet to 2,300 square feet and include eight one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units, as well as a shared rooftop deck. The goal is to attract a mix of young professionals and empty-nesters.

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