Developer Jack Soley has filed plans to build a condominium complex in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood that he says will be affordable to middle-income earners.

The proposal for 60 Parris St. is the first one filed for a swath of land that had been used for the city’s public works operations. The City Council voted in October to sell four of the six parcels to developers, including Soley, promising to deliver a mix of housing and commercial uses to the area.

Soley said the “Parris Terraces” complex is the first known project in the area targeting middle-income earners that does not rely on any federal, state or local subsidies.

“It’s never been done in the city of Portland,” possibly all of Maine, said Soley, who is doing business as Horton LLC. “I am more excited about this development than any other real estate project I have been involved with.”

Soley is also a partner in East Brown Cow Management. His most recent projects include a market-rate condo project on Brown Street, where BRGR Bar is located, and renovation of 116-118 State St. into high-end condos.

Last fall, the city sold the quarter-acre Parris Street parcel to Soley for $175,000. Soley said that was no bargain, because he must clean up contaminated soil on the former industrial site without city assistance.

Soley said he is trying to make the units affordable to people earning up to 120 percent of the area’s median income. In 2017, 120 percent of median income was $68,950 for a single person and $78,800 for a two-person household. He plans to achieve that by building small, 400-square-foot units, each of which would have a private balcony. There also would be one guest suite in the building, which would be managed by the condo association.

Also, Soley said the price is being kept down by making parking optional. He said there are as many as 23 parking spaces on an adjacent surface parking lot for sale for $5,000 to $10,000 each. He also said the units would have highly efficient heating and cooling systems.

Soley hopes the $1.8 million project will be an example for other developers, who mostly focus on market-rate or subsidized housing projects, which is leaving many middle-income earners unable to find places to live in the city.

“Nobody has addressed this segment of the market. It’s disappointing and it’s frustrating for people who work in the city of Portland and want to live here, on the peninsula, so they can walk to work,” Soley said. “I want to be able to show the developers that it’s possible not only in Portland, but that it’s a pressing need nationwide.”

The four-story building, designed by Jesse Thompson of Kaplan Thompson Architects, would have pitched roof lines, and the exterior would be fiber cement panels that would fade from dark gray on the bottom to light gray on the top. The balconies would also break up the building mass.

“We’re trying to do some interesting things with the architecture,” Soley said. “I don’t want to be involved in another box on the peninsula.”

Portland is seeing an influx of much-needed housing, but residents are increasingly concerned about the plain, architectural homogeneity of many new developments projects. That’s especially true on Munjoy Hill, where the city has enacted a moratorium on demolitions and new project submissions while staff looks to beef up design standards.

This is the first project to file site plans for the former Public Works site.

In October, the council voted to sell three other parcels in the same area.

A 1.25-acre parcel at 82 Hanover St. went to Tom Watson & Co. LLC. Watson, who owns Port Property Management, plans to relocate his office from Parkside to Bayside, which would free up 104 Grant St. for redevelopment from a single-story building to a four-story building with 23 apartments. In Bayside, Watson proposed adding retail space in the old General Store building, as well as rooftop decks and open spaces for public use.

Developer Nathan Szanton and Bayside landowner Ross Furman were approved to buy and develop a 0.22-acre parcel at 178 Kennebec St. for $250,000. That small parcel is surrounded by property Furman already owns. They plan to build 50 units of housing – a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom units – over ground level retail and/or artists’ space at 178 Kennebec St. Thirty-five percent of the units would be market-rate, while 65 percent would be affordable to people making 60 percent of the area median income or less, which in 2017 ranged from $34,500 for a single person to $49,260 for a family of four.

Barrett Made, a design and building firm, will purchase 65 Hanover St. for $1.1 million. The firm will move from Union Wharf to an existing brick building, while adding space for business incubators, including a 20-bench workshop called a makers’ space that would be available to members 24 hours a day. The proposal includes solar panels on the roof and envisions a second phase that could add 25 units of housing on an adjacent lot

None of the sales has closed yet, said Julie Sullivan, the senior adviser to the city manager. On Wednesday the council will give a first reading to a plan to sell 55 Portland St., while negotiations continue for 44 Hanover St., Sullivan said.

Robert Barrett, of Barret Made, said he hopes to close by February, so he can begin renovations shortly thereafter. Watson and Szanton did not respond to an email for comment.

The city is expected to receive $4 million for the four Bayside sites under contract, which have been used for the city’s Public Works Department. The sale proceeds have been earmarked to help pay the costs of relocating public works out to Canco Road.

The council’s Economic Development Committee is recommending the city sell 55 Portland St. for $1.4 million to Ford Reiche with a delayed closing date before the end of 2018. Reiche has proposed renovating the building currently used for Public Works administration and continuing to use it as office space.

 

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