Recently the city of Portland Maine held an information gathering public workshop focused on the desire of central waterfront pier owners to alter the marine-only code requirements of their property. As noted in my earlier posts, a form based code based on the history of Portland can solve our use oriented questions.
The history of the city provides us with the necessary information to move forward. Portland began as a series of piers or streets out into the water that extended up to a perpendicular street along the ridge of the peninsula (Congress St.). Fore street ran along the waterfront but when the railroad from Montreal crossed all of the piers towards the city, the water areas between the railroad and Fore St. were filled in. Much of the delicate fabric of many buildings conducting business along the streets that began on the land and then became piers were slowly erased as industrialization fed highway transportation of goods.
The key to development of our piers is to keep a building height of 2 to 4 stories which fits with our Old Port and to maintain a street down the middle of each pier. If the city can cooperate with the pier owners to cover liability or swap tax break for city ownership of the street in middle of piers, the city will flourish forever.
Use can be handled as waterfront at first level and other above. Buildings along Commercial Street can be the size of 100 Commercial St. building and the same depth of that to enhance the Commercial St. hallway-like street experience with visual corridors down each street out through the piers to the end of the pier.
Sometimes common sense can help our city grow in a way that benefits all.