Parade Mall proposal unveiled to Portsmouth panel


By: Michael Goot
Date: Thursday, Feb 22, 2007
Publication: Foster's Daily Democrat

PORTSMOUTH - A new city street could go through the heart of the Parade Mall office building when the site is redeveloped to make room for a new hotel, office and retail space.

The Historic District Commission on Wednesday got its first look at a proposal by Cathartes Private Investments to demolish the 1960s-era structure. In its place would be four new buildings including two primarily office buildings, one primarily residential and a hotel of about 147 rooms.

"The idea of eliminating this building is exciting to more than just a few of us here. When you look at the aerial of the building, what's interesting to know is how much a sea of pavement there is," said project architect Lisa DeStefano.

Cathartes had developed the 131-room Hilton Garden Inn at the corner of Hill and Hanover streets and had always planned for a second phase at the rest of the Parade Mall site.

David Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi Architects said the project is an "extraordinary" opportunity to create a mix of uses in a relatively small space. He said another important part of the project is to make pedestrian connections through the site and one way to accomplish this is to create a new street.

The street would be across from the Vaughan Mall pedestrian street located on Hanover Street. Parallel parking would exist on both sides of the one-way street along with wide sidewalks to further help pedestrians.

Four buildings would be built at the corners of the Parade Mall site. The first floors of all the buildings would contain retail space. There would be about 70,000-square-feet of retail for 15-20 shops, cafes and restaurants on the ground floor of each building. The hotel would be on the second, third, fourth and fifth floors of the building on the Deer Street corner. There would be 28 condominiums on the second through fifth floors of the building on Hanover Street.

More than 150,000-square-feet of office space would be located on the second, third and fourth floors of the two office buildings abutting Hanover, Maplewood and Deer streets. An underground parking garage for about 300 cars would have elevator access to all buildings and on-street parking for about 84 cars.

The Parade Mall still has tenants remaining in its building.

Vice Chairman David Adams said he welcomed the redevelopment.

"This to me seems like a fabulous opportunity for the community and if you need any help tearing down a portion of the Parade Mall, I will volunteer," he said.

Adams voiced some concern about proposals for buildings with rounded corners. He also expressed concern that the first-floor retail use juts out from the building somewhat. "This really looks like a four-story building being placed on top of something," he said.

Commission member and City Councilor Ned Raynolds said he would prefer a bolder design with newer materials that gets away from traditional historic themes since the property lies outside the city's historic core.

"I see too much red brick," he said.

Commission member Richard Katz also favored exploration of new materials.

Commission member Sandra Dika said she is pleased the development team spent so much time reviewing the Northern Tier Study and wanted to make accommodations for pedestrians. She did have concern about the roofline, though.

Chairman John Rice said he could envision this area taking on a personality of its own that needs to be reflected in the design.

"These buildings need a little bit more life to them," he said.

Planning Director David Holden said the developer needs to work on the site aspects and the notion of creating a new street before the project gets too far down the road.

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