SOUTH PORTLAND — City officials and the developers of the former public works site on O’Neil Street will host a community forum Monday night to present and discuss the latest plans for the residential project.

Headed by Ed Rowe of South Portland and Rich Simon of Newcastle, Windward Development LLC plans to build 38 units of housing on the 6-acre site, including nine single-family homes, 16 townhouse condominiums and 13 townhouse apartments.

Known as Meetinghouse Hill Park, the development will connect O’Neil Street to Pitt Street and include a public park and community garden. The project aims to attract a varied demographic – from young singles and families to empty-nesters and seniors – and be environmentally friendly.

“The proposal aims for redevelopment that is close to net-zero for energy use,” said Joshua Reny, assistant city manager. “All of the buildings are proposed to have solar panels and heat pumps. There will be a significant decrease in impervious surface area and use of best practices in storm-water management.”

The forum will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. in the council chamber at City Hall. For those unable to attend, the meeting will be videotaped and available to view on the city’s website. The developers also will make a presentation before the council at a later date, when public comment will be taken.

The city received three bids for the O’Neil Street site, which is off Cottage Road. Last June, the council accepted Windward’s $400,000 bid based on the recommendation of a nine-member review team that included community members and city officials. Bids were scored based on overall project design, development schedule, plan for public engagement and financial capacity.

The council voted 6-1 on the Windward proposal, despite concerns voiced by residents who said the architect’s modern design didn’t reflect the surrounding Meetinghouse 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.

At the time, Windward estimated a potential property tax benefit to the city of $175,000 annually, based on single-family homes valued at $300,000 each, townhouse condos valued at $250,000 to $350,000 each, and townhouse apartments valued at $200,000 each.

The city’s public works, parks and transportation divisions vacated the O’Neil Street property in late 2017, after the new Municipal Services Facility opened off Highland Avenue.

Throughout 2017, 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 the site being redeveloped for a mix of single-family homes and apartments, similar to the surrounding neighborhood. They also wanted housing that would be designed for people of all ages and affordable to people earning the city’s median annual household income, which was $59,515 in 2017.

Housing units in Meetinghouse Hill Park will range from 800 to 1,600 square feet and most will be two to three bedrooms, Reny said. The project will be built in phases, with a new road and utilities completed first, along with the single-family homes.

Once the overall design plan is finalized, it will be presented to the council for approval. Then the developers will have to seek a contract zone from the council, complete the purchase of the property and take the project through Planning Board review.

The purchase-and-sale agreement between the city and Windward runs through August 2019, but it could be extended if necessary, Reny said. If all goes well, construction could start as early as next year.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: KelleyBouchard

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