Am I the only one concerned about the Roux Institute?

At their neighborhood meeting Tuesday, they told us they are applying for zoning changes that are specifically meant for “major institutions.” Did I miss something? The Roux Institute is a brand-new startup with about 800 enrolled students. For comparison purposes, one of the existing approved major institutions, the University of Southern Maine, has about 10,000 enrolled students.

Currently they are proposing several buildings, and if zoning changes are approved, they would be able to build a hotel and the largest building in all of Portland: 210 feet tall. At least that is what they are proposing.

What happens if the institutional overlay zone is not approved? While everyone is very excited for this project, myself included, are we really treating Roux as something that it is not today: a major institution? Is it really necessary for this small startup to have a hotel? Is it necessary for the Roux Campus to be able to say they have the tallest building in all of Portland?

To date, Roux has not given us a backup plan with building heights within the 65-foot limit, as determined by limits for the B-5 zone (mixed-use urban commercial), and the only plans we have seen are for their grandiose campus. Is there a plan if the institutional overlay zone is not approved, and why haven’t we seen it?

Justin Litchfield

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