January 16, 2019

Shipyard/Vets First Choice project was designed to fit into, transform neighborhood

Courtesy / Archetype Architects
Courtesy / Archetype Architects
An overview rendering of the 86 Newbury project, shows the planned Vets First Choice building facing Mountfort Street, with Newbury Street at the right. The building behind the three small buildings on Newbury is what's left of the Shipyard brewery. The project by Bateman Partners LLC will be a total 211,00 square feet once it's complete.

Bateman Partners LLC has been in the news for its controversial plan to build a hotel as part of a mixed-use development on Portland's waterfront. Last Friday it announced it was scrapping the hotel and redesigning the plan into something that will be supported by fisherman and fit into the working waterfront.

Meanwhile, across the city, the development group's plan for a 211,000-square-foot mixed-use building that will transform a neighborhood is moving along steadily and without a lot of fuss.

The development includes:

140,000 square feet of new office space for Vets First Choice, as well as a large pharmacy, labs and technical fulfillment space;

Redevelopment of Shipyard Brewing Co.'s brewery for use by Vet's First Choice and Shipyard, including a demonstration brewery and retail;

72,797 square feet of hotel space — a 105-room Cambria Suites hotel;

9,060 square feet of residential — 10 units in three buildings.

Four levels of parking with 372 spaces, as well as 12 spaces for the residential units.

All of it, except for the residential units, is one building.

"It's a large project," said Nathan Bateman, vice president of Bateman Partners.

Even before the developer scuttled its plans for a 93-room hotel as part of the mixed-use project on Fisherman's Wharf, a half-mile west on Commercial Street, that project paled in comparison to the project at 86 Newbury St.

When the Vets First Choice aspect of the project was first announced, Greg Boulos of The Boulos Co. said it was the first office building of more than 150,000 square feet to be built on the city's peninsula in 25 years.

But it's more than an office building — the project, being built by Allied Construction, incorporates Vets First Choice offices, as well as pharmacy, laboratories and fulfillment, as well as Shipyard's retail operations and residential that steps from housing to a hotel.

The multi-use development takes up most of the block bordered by Fore, Newbury, Hancock and Mountfort streets — the only building not part of the project is the Residence Inn on the corner of Fore and Hancock.

Approved, three-year timeline

Courtesy / Archetype Architects
Courtesy / Archetype Architects
The Hancock Street side of the 86 Newbury project shows the Cambria Suites hotel (center), with Shipyard to the left.

The plan was approved by the planning board in September, and demolition of the large Shipyard brewery that has towered over Newbury Street took place in the fall. Two multi-family homes on the site were razed as well.

While the project includes a demonstration brewery, Shipyard has moved its brewing and bottling operations off the peninsula to Read Street.

The building that remains, which fronts on Hancock Street, will include Shipyard's tasting room on the first floor, with Vets First Choice pharmacy and fulfillment on the upper two floors. That section will open later this year.

Next door, on Hancock, will be new construction, with the entrance to the parking garage on the first floor and Cambria Suites on the upper two floors.

On the other side of the Shipyard building, on Newbury Street, will be the residential buildings.

The Vets First Choice offices, with a total of 140,000 square feet, will stretch out behind, to Mountfort Street, with an address of 12 Mountfort St.

The project is expected to be completed in 2020, with the hotel ready for occupancy in 2021, Bateman said.

Different look for different streets

Courtesy / Archetype Architects
Courtesy / Archetype Architects
A rendering of the 86 Newbury development (right), looking down Newbury Street from Hancock Street.

Bateman said "a big part of the project" is integration into the neighborhood.

The lot slopes downhill from Newbury to Fore Street and each street bordering it is different. Hancock Street is four- and five-story condominiums; Fore Street is industrial, with the long stretch of Hamilton Marine and the future 100 Fore St. parking garage and mixed-use development; Mountfort Street has the 1970s-era Munjoy South townhouses.

On Newbury Street, there are century-old clapboard multi-family two and three-story buildings and the historic Abyssinian Meeting House.

Bateman said that, depending on which street a person is standing on, the development will look completely different. "And it's all wrapped around the parking garage," he said.

David Lloyd of Archetype Architects, which designed the project, said the mixed uses of the project were "an opportunity to provide different architectural compositions respecting the indigenous buildings on each street."

"The parking garage was designed to be surrounded on three sides, effectively hiding it from public view," he said. "Integrating all of these mixed uses and then designing each street view to be symbiotic with the existing street facades was the most intriguing part of the design process."

A lot of moving parts

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
Newbury Steet, with the Abyssinian Meeting House on the right and the 86 Newbury project on the left.

Bateman and Lloyd said the city worked closely with city planners, historical preservation staff, neighborhood groups and more. Developers even took into account concerns from Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Department about protected bat species that nested in the building slated for demolition, and asked that it not be done between June and August, when young bats wouldn't be able to fly, according to planning documents.

Planning board documents on the project show multiple public hearings and input from residents, with concerns about the size of the project, height of buildings and traffic.

The project only needed zoning variances for underground utility and curb cut issues, and will be part of a traffic mitigation program, that includes the city and other large-scale projects in the neighborhood as well.

The project is in the India Street form-based code district, which focuses on how the development fits into the neighborhood physically, than what the use of the buildings are.

The developers also took into account concerns about the archaeological aspects of the city's oldest neighborhood.

"There were foundations [on the corner of Mountfort and Newbury streets] that predated the Great Fire [of 1866]," Bateman said.

Archaeological Consulting LLC of Portsmouth, N.H., did a study and dig over the summer,and found historical remnants in the area, which are being preserved.

'Unique unto itself'

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
The 86 Newbury project looking from Fore Street to Newbury. The Abyssinian Meeting House is in the background.

Lloyd said that because of the varied uses, "This project is unique unto itself."

The design took into account big-picture issues: "Along Fore Street and looking out toward ocean views, the building is fully clad in glass yielding a more contemporary building fašade and giving expansive views toward the harbor," he said.

It also takes into account the architecture of older buildings in the area, many of which were built after the devastation of the 1866 fire. "The office building [on Hancock Street] took on a brick fašade with punched openings for windows in due deference to the historic neighboring units," he said.

The three residential buildings fit in the streetscape along Newbury — lined with small century-old clapboard residences.

And, across the street from the Abyssinian Meeting House will be a pocket park.

"It will provide a resting space and an opportunity to sit in a park admiring the historic landmark, plus provide some needed green area along Newbury Street," he said.

The project is one of many that the firm is designing in the emerging neighborhood bordering the eastern waterfront.

Archetype also designed the 140,000-square-foot glass-clad building at the corner of Thames and Hancock streets, a block away, which payment processing firm WEX is moving into beginning on Feb. 1, as well as the 100 Fore St. project across the street.

Its projects in the area also include redesign of the 12,000-square-foot former Grand Trunk Railroad office on the corner of India and Thames streets for Gorham Savings Bank's headquarters and a variety of condominium and office buildings

"Archetype is honored and proud to be part of what has become a major development zone in the city," Lloyd said. "Creating new contemporary urban spaces for people to work and live in is a rewarding exercise."


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