Roux Institute’s recent announcement that it was reducing by 27 percent the footprint of a planned campus at the former B&M Factory came as no surprise to us, the residents of the adjoining neighborhood (June 8 ). It was commonly assumed that this “new” plan is what the developers intended all along. As one resident put it, “So, now let’s get real and seriously cut the down the size.”

An outcry among neighbors objecting to the height and scale, especially of a mammoth hotel, prompted IDEALS, the non-profit organization redeveloping the project, to trim the scale of the project. From 1.7 million square feet to 1.3 million square feet (for comparison, the Maine Mall is slightly over 1 million square feet).

But their boast of a 27 percent reduction is based on flawed assumptions, derived by taking the highest number in the original range of proposed square footage to do calculations, thus inflating the numbers. When the dust clears, building heights would only be reduced by 9 percent. And the sky-blotting hotel would still be with us.

The announcement is yet another example of IDEAL’s slick, relentless advocacy. Retaining lawyers and public relations specialists, IDEALS has from the outset subverted the collaborative process required for rezoning. Instead, we of the affected neighborhoods scramble to attend hastily- announced meetings held at inconvenient hours. The meetings turn out to be infomercials.

IDEALS constantly tries to pull the wool over our eyes. They spin the fantasy that they are proposing a “campus.” But in reality, they propose a massive commercial development with a dense, clustered, urban, mixed-use design. The Roux Institute is merely a tenant. And what would such a colossus mean to the businesses already lined along our streets?

IDEALS’ response to neighborhood traffic concerns has been less than ideal. Their calculations are based on peak traffic instead of total traffic impact throughout the week and in different seasons. IDEALS has not seriously addressed the traffic issues that would arise from the increase in the parade of people going to and from the “campus. ” The intersection of Washington Avenue and Veranda street is already one of the most treacherous crossroads in the city. Can you imagine injecting hundreds more pedestrians and vehicles into the fray?


IDEALS has not met many of the required standards of the city’s rezoning process and the Institutional Overlay Zone. The lack of progress on traffic/parking issues is especially troublesome. When we bring this matter up they glibly remind that they are proposing a multi-phased project. The implication is not to worry. We can work it out. It would impact the entire city and take years to complete. These issues would only be exacerbated as the project develops. They must be seriously addressed now.

Finally, we are not NIMBY’s. To suggest otherwise is insulting. We are people who love our neighborhood. When we began our dance with IDEALS our question was “How can we make this work together?” A campus sounded good. Who isn’t for education?

But now, after nearly two years of struggle, we wonder whether there is any credible way to fit this giant into its proposed setting.

— Special to the Press Herald

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