As a resident of East Bayside and a member of Livable Portland, a group dedicated to housing affordability, I feel the need to respond to a recent Maine Voices commentary urging citizens to raise concerns about the new Port Property development in Bayside. This project will be a positive change for our neighborhood, and I encourage my fellow residents to speak out in support to ensure it is successfully completed.

Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, where Port Property Management has bought numerous properties, including 62 Elm St., lower left, and plans to build more than 800 housing units, including about 200 units of affordable housing. The Portland Planning Board will hold a workshop on the proposal Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The Bayside neighborhood is an incredible place to live, with access to numerous amenities. Within a few minutes’ walk, we have supermarkets, doctors’ offices, shops, restaurants, cafes, a large park, multiple playgrounds and more. The children of many of my neighbors are able to walk to school with their friends. It is also very easy to walk or cycle to work downtown. This is why I feel it is such a shame that so much of the land in our neighborhood is filled with surface parking lots.

Not only do these lots prevent 800 Portlanders from sharing in the neighborhood I love, but they also actively make things worse for current residents. The lots waste space that could be filled by friends or your favorite shop, they encourage people from outside the neighborhood to drive in and park, thus increasing traffic, and they are just plain unpleasant to walk by. Can you honestly walk down Elm Street today, through an ocean of surface parking, and make the case that the status quo is worth preserving?

Preserving that status quo will be the outcome of resisting this project. The author of Thursday’s Maine Voices correctly notes that the “midtown” development in Bayside is now defunct. The reason the project failed is that a group ironically named Keep Portland Livable (no relation to Livable Portland) raised just such concerns and challenged the project in court. Though their case never made it to trial, the lawsuit alone was enough to eventually lead to the project’s cancellation. In the end, to quote the author, the project “remains a blighted dirt tract.”

Though the blighted tracts in this case will be asphalt rather than dirt, the effect will be the same. There are things about any project that can be improved, but many of the concerns raised at Port Property’s community meeting on the project and mentioned in the recent commentary are either incomplete or misleading:

• There are concerns about affordability, but the project will be adding about 200 units of affordable housing. While these units will still be out of reach to some, constructing them does not take anything away from these people, and it will make a world of difference in the lives of hundreds of Portlanders who are increasingly struggling to afford market-rate rents.


• There are concerns about traffic and lack of nearby parking, but building a mixed-use walkable neighborhood is the single best thing we can do to reduce car trips. I, and many others in the neighborhood, already do most of our regular trips on foot.

• There are concerns about green space, but this project will not remove any green space. It is developing existing buildings and surface parking lots. The developments are also under 10 minutes’ walk away from multiple parks and a trail.

The units of housing and space for business provided by this project will transform our neighborhood for the better. I urge my neighbors to speak out in support of this project before we are left with more empty lots and empty promises of affordable housing.

Please submit a written comment to by noon on Monday or join the remote Planning Board meeting at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and offer a brief verbal public comment to express support for this project. Also, if you are someone who thinks building more housing is a good thing, you may be interested in joining Livable Portland.

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