Residential units reduced in McIntyre plan
By Jeff McMenemy
Posted Nov 19, 2018 at 10:58 PM
Updated Nov 19, 2018 at 10:58 PM
PORTSMOUTH - The Redgate/Kane development team said their plan to redevelop the McIntyre Federal Building now calls for 77 residents units on the 2.1 acre parcel, instead of the initially planned 88.
Steve Perdue, the vice president for Redgate, said the plan they presented to the City Council in May is similar to the existing plan. The key difference, he said, was the loss of 11 residential units that they lost when the National Park Service didn’t allow them to demolish the one-story post office wing of the McIntyre building.
Perdue told the City Council at their Monday night meeting in City Hall that their plan remains to turn the McIntyre building into office space. He said the development team plans to create parking that’s “one for one” with the planned residential units at the site.
City Councilor Rick Becksted said “parking is going to be a big thing for me,” and that he remains concerned that there are no specific parking spots for the people who will work in the McIntyre building or elsewhere at the site. City resident Paige Trace during the council’s public comment session asked “where are all those people in the McIntyre building going to park.”
“They haven’t accounted for it,” Trace said. But Perdue said the development team is working on doing a “parking and traffic study.” “We think there’s an opportunity for shared parking with office use and residential use,” he said.
Redgate/Kane Co. is the city’s development partner on the public/private partnership to redevelop the 2.1 acre federal building property which is located close to the city’s popular waterfront. 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 redevelopment, and most recently over the news the post office might be forced off the property.
Redgate/Kane initially proposed converting the federal building into office space, while building two 5½-story 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. Michael Kane, the president and chief executive officer of the Kane Co, 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, shortterm vendors, experimental and traditional retail,” according to the city website.
During Monday’s presentation, Perdue also acknowledged how important it is for the development team to “break down the size of the public block.”
They did that, he said, by making 44 percent of the development “open or programmed space.” That includes a central plaza space which will be “a couple hundred feet long,” he said and vary in width from “40 to 75 feet.”
A community space will “frame the central plaza area” and people will be able to enter the public space “through the office lobby” of the McIntyre building. Developers are also looking at a variety of potential commercial uses, Perdue said, including a market, a brewery and a fitness center.
“Nothing is set in stone,” he added. In terms of challenges to the redevelopment, Perdue said developers have learned that there is asbestos that will have to be abated “throughout the entire building.”
Developers have stressed they want the post office to remain on the property. But in order to do that the post office would have to first move to a temporary home, something post office officials said they won’t do. Perdue said Monday the post office wants to talk to developers again about their lease proposal. Developers will be “happy to do that,” Perdue said.