Provident Bank building approved by Portsmouth HDC


PORTSMOUTH -- The Historic District Commission unanimously approved a plan by The Provident Bank to demolish the former Shaines and McEachern law office building and replace it with a three-and-a-half story mixed-use development.

The vote Wednesday night to approve the 25 Maplewood Ave. development came in a relatively short amount of time for the HDC, which has taken years to review some notable downtown projects.

“I’m really proud to say that we had just four work sessions for a 40,000-square-foot building,” Lisa DeStefano, the project’s architect and founder of DeStefano Architects, said Thursday. “That’s a pretty amazing task.”

The building will feature commercial on the first floor, DeStefano said, including a branch of The Provident Bank. There are two other commercial spots open on the first floor that the bank hasn’t yet selected a tenant for, she said, but it will be strictly commercial, and not a restaurant.

The building, which is located at the edge of the Worth parking lot, will also feature 20 covered parking spaces that are basically “tucked into the hill,” DeStefano said.

The second floor will be the new corporate headquarters for The Provident Bank, which is moving from Amesbury, Massachusetts, she said.

“Provident wanted to have a hub in Portsmouth,” DeStefano said.

The third floor will feature six condos with four more on the fourth, she said. The condos range in size, with the largest being 1,800 square feet, she said, and each will feature a balcony.

The development will also feature an “atrium in the center of the building that washes light down through the open hallways and carries all the way down to Provident Bank’s corporate offices,” she said.

Joe Almeida, commercial design studio manager for DeStefano Architects, acknowledged Thursday that the former Shaines and McEachern building “is not something that is particularly attractive to a lot of people.”

The new development, DeStefano said, also “activates the street and has a better pedestrian experience” as called for in the city’s zoning. “This really is a landmark building on one of the major approaches to the city,” she said.

The development will feature green space around the property with walkways that completely surround the building, she said.

The project still needs site plan approval from the Planning Board, but DeStefano said demolition of the existing building could begin in October.

David Mansfield, chief executive officer of The Provident Bank, said he feels “fantastic” about getting HDC approval for the project.

“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the development team. Steve Wilson is the developer and he’s earned some good will in town on recent projects,” Mansfield said Thursday. “Lisa DeStefano really put a great package together and our commitment right from the beginning was to work with the city and the HDC to develop a prominent corner of the city into a really desirable project.”

The Provident Bank decided to move to Portsmouth because of the growth of its business and the significant amount of work it already does in New Hampshire, he said.

The company spent almost a year looking at properties in various locations, including Newburyport, Massachusetts, but decided “we really wanted to be in Portsmouth,” he said.

“It’s a great city to work in and I live here now,” he said. “We’ve got a real commitment to Portsmouth.”


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