Kane says post office has space in McIntyre plans
By Jeff McMenemy
Posted Nov 18, 2018 at 7:27 PM
Updated Nov 18, 2018 at 7:27 PM
PORTSMOUTH -- The city’s partners in the redevelopment of the McIntyre Federal Building property are scheduled to make a presentation to the City Council on Monday night. Redgate/Kane Co. is the city’s development partner on the public/private partnership to redevelop the 2.1-acre site, which is located close to the city’s popular waterfront.
“I think they’ll probably just be going over the general plans the committee has been working on,” City Manager John Bohenko said about the McIntyre Blue Ribbon Steering Committee that is working with the developers on the project. “The council will be getting an update on where they’re at.” The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.
The city has been trying for years to gain control of the federal property from the General Services Administration, which owns it. During the past year, the city has been working to acquire the property for free through the Historic Monument Program, which the National Park Service administers. But the redevelopment has been mired in controversy, first for the size and scope of the proposed redevelopment, and most recently over the news the post office might be forced off the property.
Michael Kane, president and chief executive officer of the Kane Company, said “our support for the post office has been slightly misconstrued.”
“The city has echoed the desires of the post office and residents to remain at the McIntyre location, and it is reflected in the designs,” Kane said in a statement posted on the city website on Friday. “Given the realities of construction dangers, it is necessary for the post office to temporarily relocate. At this time, the post office has not made a decision on their interim location and may not continue their tenancy. Regardless of their decision, space remains included in design plans for a mailing service.”
At a Sept. 20 meeting U.S. Postal Service officials held in Portsmouth, numerous residents and business owners expressed the desire to keep the post office at the McIntyre property, and some criticized city officials for not doing more to keep it there. USPS real estate specialist David Rouse repeatedly told the crowd that packed City Council chambers “we prefer to stay where we are.”
“We have been told by both the city and their chosen developer that we have to relocate while the renovations occur,” he said. “We can’t stay.” The presentation at Monday’s council meeting, according to the city website, will be used to “kick off the review (of the design plans) prior to submitting a final application to the Historic Monument program to transfer the property to the city.” That review will continue through January 2019.
Redgate/Kane initially proposed converting the federal building into office space, while building two 5½- and two 3½-story buildings on the property. It has since eliminated the 5½-story building off Daniel Street after receiving pushback from the National Park Service on the proposal’s scale and density. It also dropped plans to demolish part of the one-story post office wing. Kane has also said the team also reduced the other proposed 5½-story building to 4½ stories.
The proposed development also includes outdoor public spaces, an indoor community space and public plaza, a “newly-created outdoor public plaza, amid adjacent ground-level uses that will include local arts and maker space, short term vendors, experimental and traditional retail,” according to the city website.