This is a small block development. Site conditions included a ½-acre parking lot and three historic buildings (Tracey Causer) at the northeast corner. Carved out of the parking on the Center Street side is a small lot containing a popular tavern, Brian Boru. The owner controls all but the tavern.
The design preserves all existing buildings, which are integrated to look like they are part of the design. The design objective is to return the parking lot be like the best preserved parts Portland. In addition, Portland has the distinction of attracting the largest percentage of young adults of any city in the country. Therefore, a prime objective is to appeal to young adults with "market affordable" housing, incubator office opportunities and small bustling retail. The design is scaled to people rather than cars, although there are 72 parking spaces on site, with room for expansion.
On the 1/2 acre parking lot we propose three new streets (Philadelphia style skinny streets), 82 units of mixed-income housing, 15,000 SF of retail and 30,000 SF of office space. Most of the housing is apartment flats, but there are several "trinity" town houses with rear gardens. Housing affordability comes from corridors that connect through what seem separate buildings. The connected corridors allow one elevator and two stairs to serve multiple buildings, lowering common costs. The facades articulate small scale on the street, reflect Portland character, and at four to five stories reflect the existing urban fabric.
The one exception is the office building on Spring Street. Spring Street is a divided boulevard, so the 13-story height of the office building is appropriate. The top two floors switch from office to residential, permitting spectacular views of the Portland harbor over the tops of the roofs below.
The site slopes 20' from Fore Street up to Spring Street, allowing parking to tuck a level, and if required, two underneath the project without the cost of deep excavations.
Some of the out-of-the-box thinking involved an existing statue honoring John Ford, the famous Hollywood movie director who grew up in Portland. Currently the memorial is opposite the southwest corner of the project, where it is obscured in a weedy corner. We propose a land swap with the city, allowing the memorial to relocate to the center of the intersection where it will receive notice and calm traffic. Here too it can become a small park. The increased value of this location will attract the Ford Estate to underwrite moving the monument and building the park, making a win-win scenario for the city and the Ford family.