Innovative condo project on hold


Still a parking lot: the potential site of Danforth on High. photo/Chris Busby
Still a parking lot: the potential site of Danforth on High. photo/Chris Busby


Innovative condo project on hold
Financing woes stalling Danforth on High

A condo project that was to be the city’s first development incorporating a car-sharing arrangement has been delayed due to difficulty securing bank financing.

Developer Peter Bass said he’s still hopeful banks will “start opening their doors a little bit” and enable his 26-unit project, called Danforth on High, to move forward, but there’s no guarantee that’ll happen.

The city sold Bass the roughly 7,500-square-foot parcel on the corner of Danforth and High streets in the fall of 2006 for $150,000. In December 2007, the City Council agreed to slash the number of parking spaces required for the project from 56 to 14, including two spaces to be occupied by cars shared by residents and collectively owned by the condo-owners’ association.

The 26 studio and one-bedroom condos, priced at $142,400 and up, were considered “affordable housing” at the time. Construction was expected to begin last spring and be completed last fall.

Richard Murphy, a realtor with Harborview Properties who’s involved with the project, said he’s certain construction will begin next spring and the condos will be occupied by October 2010. He said 10 people have reserved units and are awaiting Danforth on High’s completion. Murphy also said the details of the project — including the size and price of the units and the car-sharing arrangement — will remain the same.

Bass would not divulge the total cost of building Danforth on High, other than to say it’s “in the millions.” Gorham Savings Bank was originally a partner in the project, and “may yet again” be involved, Bass said, but it’s clear the bank is not currently on board. Bass has renewed his site-plan permit for the project and said he is not under any pressing time constraints imposed by city requirements to get the project started at this point.

“I’m optimistic things will change and eventually we’ll get going on it,” Bass said.

No other developments incorporating car sharing have been built or proposed since Danforth on High, according to City Councilor Kevin Donoghue. However, last year city officials paved the way for U Car Share, a division of U-Haul, to put four shared vehicles on city streets — two on Elm Street, near Monument Square, and two just east of Casco Bay Lines, on Commercial Street.

Portland is only the fourth city U Car Share has entered. The company reimburses the city for meter revenue the city would have collected had it not reserved the four on-street parking spots for U Car Share vehicles, said Donoghue.

— Chris Busby