MHNO and City Officials Meet with 155 Sheridan St. Developers

A couple enjoys a winter break atop Munjoy Hill, taking in the view from Ft. Sumner Park. A proposed residential development on Sheridan St. would obstruct a large portion of the unique vista.

At the recent monthly meeting of the MHNO Board of Directors, we received a presentation providing an overview of the residential development currently planned for 155 Sheridan Street and two adjacent lots. That plan, prepared by Saulnier Development, would include 31 market-rate (high-end) residences and three "workforce housing" units, according to the architects presenting on Saulnier's behalf. This plan has not yet been presented to the City; Acorn Engineering, Inc. and Ryan Senatore Architecture, representing Saulnier owner Bernie Saulnier, were proactive in reaching out to review their plans with the MHNO Board and members attending our August 12th meeting. 

Following the August 12 presentation, nearly every member of our Board of Directors expressed concerns, primarily over the impact the proposal would have to Fort Sumner Park. We reached out to Mr. Saulnier's team once again and were happy to learn he was willing to sit down in person with members of our Board and selected City officials to discuss the plan and our concerns. At the Saulnier team's request, that meeting was non-public to allow for a frank and direct conversation. We want to stress the meeting was neither a meeting of the MHNO Board or the Organization but was held at the MHNO Hill House in hopes of giving Mr. Saulnier more exposure to our community.

In its current form, the building would completely obstruct the park’s much treasured view of Back Cove and Mt. Washington along with much, if not all of the sunset view, which has been cherished by Portland for generations.

The meeting was held Tuesday evening, August 23. In attendance were seven members of the MHNO Board, Bernie Saulnier and his team (architects Ryan Senatore, engineer Will Savage and Patrick Venne), along with Mayor Ethan Strimling, City Councilor Belinda Ray, City Parks Director Ethan Hipple and the city's Development and Planning Director, Jeff Levine. The meeting was approximately forty-five minutes in length and included a similar presentation to that of August 12th, followed by a free discussion among those in attendance. 

Though most in attendance voiced opposition to the existing plan on the grounds that the park's vista would be significantly compromised, we can report that Saulnier and his team have agreed to revisit the existing plan to consider changes which would lessen the impact to the iconic view from Fort Sumner Park. Additionally, Mr. Saulnier agreed to return to review those updates and changes with the group in attendance within three weeks, and prior to making a formal application to the City of Portland, which would officially begin the public input process. 

Like many of our neighbors, we're concerned by renderings depicting the structure rising approximately one and one-half stories broaching the level of the park located on North Street. In its current form, the building would completely obstruct the park's much treasured view of Back Cove and Mt. Washington, along with much, if not all of the sunset view, which has been cherished by Portland for generations. 

We sought the face-to-face meeting with Mr. Saulnier to begin a good faith effort for dialogue in hopes of avoiding a new development conflict within the community. 

We are united with our friends and neighbors in their concern over the impact new development poses to the surrounding community. However, we remain open and willing to discuss solutions in order to avoid loss of or negative impact to public spaces, thus our careful steps taken to begin dialogue with this particular developer. We believe we've accomplished that important first step.

...we remain open and willing to discuss solutions in order to avoid loss of or negative impact to public spaces, thus our careful steps taken to begin dialogue with this developer.

Any action, requests or opinions we express as an organization and on behalf of our member community will be carefully made and with the hope of finding a compromise which accommodates the developer's will while respecting both our neighbors and the integrity of this very special place. Regardless of our work with the developer, our first concern is for our neighborhood and its park. The protection of both will guide us during this process and we are prepared for a prolonged period of discussion and action if needed.