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Maine Developer Plans Major Projects in Portsmouth
Published Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Henry Sherburne House, a historic house at 62 Deer St. in Portsmouth. Photo: CC/Magicpiano

Deer Street Associates—a NH-based limited partnership managed by GL Rogers and Company in Maine that has owned commercial property on Deer Street in Portsmouth since 1984—is planning developments in the city's North End. The project includes construction of a new municipal parking garage to begin in late April or May on the corner of Deer and Bridge streets and the purchase of includes purchasing 1.2 acres for the project and plans to develop workforce housing.

Deer Street Associates is working with city employees and planning board members to renovate the entire Deer Street/Bridge Street area from Maplewood Avenue to Hill Street in Portsmouth. Proposed building developments include a mixture of residential, office and commercial spaces, with five workforce housing units in one of the lot buildings. Deer Street Associates has proposed a total of four mixed-use buildings and an open community space. The partnership hopes to see a hotel, restaurant, pharmacy, bank, rooftop bar/restaurant and residences in these mixed-use buildings.

Located on the corner of Maplewood Avenue and Deer Street, the proposed building on Lot 5 would feature a pharmacy and bank on the ground floor, with about 45 residences among the upper floors, including five units of workforce housing. Portsmouth zoning mandates that at least 10 percent of the dwelling units (or at least two units) may be for rent. 

Workforce housing units are in short supply in Portsmouth, which is “somewhat of a regional anomaly,” according to Nancy Colbert Puff, deputy city manager. She says that “In looking at housing prices, you'll find today, roughly 50 percent of people who own homes here would not be able to afford to buy a home in Portsmouth now.” 

Some members of the Historic District Commission have questions about the height of the proposed building for Lot 5 of the project, which Deer Street Associates says must be five stories tall to be feasible. A website for the project is underway to provide updates on construction progress.

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