Avesta has built lots of great housing for middle- and low-income Portlanders in the past decade, and what they're proposing for this lot is pretty great: two five-story buildings containing 54 apartments, within easy walking distance of two big grocery stores, all of Portland's bus lines, and thousands of downtown jobs. It sounds like a great development that should enrich the neighborhood and add some life to Bayside's streets - until you look at it from the perspective of someone who walks along Bayside's streets.
The walkable, liveable community being proposed only exists ten feet above the sidewalks, on the top four stories of the proposed buildings. The ground level is devoted entirely to a dark, unwelcoming garage, some mechanical rooms, and a few fire exits. Here's the ground floor plan:
According to the rule of thumb that each structured parking space costs roughly $20,000 to build, the extra floor of parking with 28 spots is going to add approximately half a million dollars to the project's price tag. That's $500,000 being sucked out of Maine's affordable housing budget in order to pay for more parking in a neighborhood that already has more than it can use. WTF?
The ground-floor parking also turns what could have been a decent-looking building into an ugly, unwelcoming fortress. Here's a detail of the corner entrance on Lancaster Street: