SOUTH PORTLAND — After receiving only two proposals from willing housing developers, the City Council accepted a $400,000 bid Tuesday night for the former public works site on O’Neil Street from Windward Development LLC.

Headed by Ed Rowe of South Portland and Rich Simon of Newcastle, Windward plans to build 36 units of housing on the 6-acre site, including 8 single-family homes, 16 townhouses and 12 condominiums.

The council picked Windward based on the recommendation of a nine-member proposal review team of community members and city officials, who scored the bids based on overall project design, development schedule, plan for public engagement and financial capacity.

The other proposal came from M & V Enterprises, headed by Mark Loring and Vincent Maietta of South Portland, whose project design showed 37 units, including 13 single-family homes, five duplexes, two three-family homes and two four-family homes.

“Both were sound designs,” said Linden Thigpen, a neighbor who sat on both the reuse planning committee and the proposal review team. “The winning proposal was more comprehensive and complete and easier to evaluate.”

The council voted 6-1 on the Windward proposal, despite concerns voiced by residents who said the architect’s modern design doesn’t reflect the surrounding Meeting House Hill neighborhood. The sought-after area, bounded by Cottage, Sawyer and Walnut streets, is characterized by post-World War II Cape- and colonial-style homes.

“It was supposed to match the houses in the neighborhood,” said Jack Raposa of Walnut Street.

VACATED LAST FALL

The city’s public works, parks and transportation divisions vacated the O’Neil Street property last fall, after the new Municipal Services Facility off Highland Avenue opened in November.

What remains is an unusual opportunity to create housing in a city faced with growing demand for affordable homes and little available land in residential neighborhoods. Soil testing found no significant contamination on the property, city officials said.

Throughout last year, the O’Neil Street Facility Re-use Planning Committee held multiple public forums and site visits before submitting recommendations to the council in January.

The committee found that most residents were open to a mix of single-family homes and apartments, similar to the surrounding neighborhood. They also wanted proposals that would be designed for people of all ages and affordable to people earning the city’s median annual household income of $56,250.

Competitive proposals were expected to include open space, be environmentally friendly, connect O’Neil and Pitt streets, and provide a financial return to the city without making that the primary goal in judging submissions. The city offered no development or financial incentives.

Councilors said Tuesday they were disappointed that the property drew only two bids, but pleased that Windward addressed many of the goals outlined by neighbors in the planning process.

“I think (it) can be a winning project for the city,” said Councilor Kate Lewis, who sat on the proposal review team.

In its proposal, Windward said it planned to spend an additional $1.6 million building the project, which would be designed by Mark Mueller Architects of Portland, Northeast Civil Solutions of Scarborough and Campbell Environmental of Falmouth.

ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

Windward plans to build super-insulated buildings with triple-pane windows, solar panels and air-to-air heat exchangers with the goal of approaching net-zero energy use. The project would include the existing greenhouse, community gardens and a park with a covered picnic area, playground, walking paths and outdoor sculptures.

Windward offered to include a skate park – a project the city is working on – but city officials indicated that it wouldn’t be suitable in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

Windward estimated a potential property tax benefit to the city of $175,000 annually, based on eight townhouses valued at $350,000 each, eight townhouses valued at $250,000 each, eight single-family houses valued at $300,000 each, and 12 condos valued at $200,000 each.

Now, Windward and the city are expected to negotiate the finer points of a development plan and a purchase-and-sale agreement, which must be signed within 14 days of the council’s vote, said City Manager Scott Morelli. Windward also must post a $25,000 bid bond.

The land sale won’t be completed until a final development plan is acceptable to both parties, the plan is presented at a neighborhood meeting and a council workshop, and the council considers any needed zoning changes, Morelli said.

Windward will be responsible for demolishing any buildings that remain on the site, as well as paying for all architectural and engineering services, project review costs and property appraisals associated with the project.

Construction could start as early as this fall, Windward said. Completion of each phase would depend on market demand and sales.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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CORRECTION: This story was updated at 2:30 p.m. on June 7, 2018, to correct the spelling of Windward Development LLC.

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