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Portsmouth partners with firm for redevelopment of downtown federal building

Union Leader Correspondent

January 17. 2018 11:41PM
The building that houses the Portsmouth Post Office will be redeveloped as part of a public-private partnership with the city. (KIMBERLEY HAAS FILE PHOTO)

PORTSMOUTH — City councilors have chosen a partner firm to redevelop the Thomas J. McIntyre Federal Building on Daniel Street.

The building houses the city’s post office and is located on 2.1 acres in the city’s central business district.

A number of suggestions have been made about how the site should be redeveloped; choosing to work with Redgate of Boston and the Kane Company of Portsmouth is the first step in determining the fate of the property.

Before their vote Tuesday night, Councilor Nancy Pearson said she is impressed with Redgate and Kane because of their adaptive reuse experience in creating new spaces for modern needs.

“In looking at all three of the firms, they are clearly the ones that this would not be an experiment for them. They would be bringing so much experience to the table,” Pearson said.

Councilor Chris Dwyer asked about the implications of entering into a nonbinding agreement, citing concerns the public has about the project. Dwyer said she was accosted in church over the issue of public parking.

“That might be a deal-breaker if we can’t get more parking on the site. I wouldn’t want to string anybody along thinking that I’d be fine with what was proposed for parking,” Dwyer said. “That’s a detail, I know, but I think it’s a very important detail.”

Deputy City Manager Nancy Colbert Puff said the request for proposals did not call for the provision of public parking on the site; Redgate and Kane’s plan does not include it.

Colbert Puff said each bidding team expressed that their plans could be altered based upon what they hear from the public and the council.

Councilor Josh Denton said he supports Redgate and Kane’s proposal because it is the only plan that does not call for a hotel on site.

“The public has made it clear they would not like to see a hotel at that location,” Denton said.

Redgate and Kane plan to build condos or apartments at the site.

The council voted 7-1 to enter into a nonbinding agreement with Redgate and Kane.

The council also established on Tuesday a public input process so officials can pull together the information they need to submit an application for acquisition of the property for Historic Monument purposes. A preservation, use and financial plan is expected to be submitted in June.

If approved, the city could potentially get the property for free.

The 107,000-square-foot, four-story building has 44 indoor parking spaces and a two-tier outdoor parking lot with 91 spaces.

It was completed in 1967. In 1981, the building was rededicated and named for Democratic U.S. Sen. Thomas McIntyre.

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