PORTSMOUTH — After months of controversy over which direction the project should take, city councilors voted Monday night to move forward with a federal application to redevelop the Thomas J. McIntyre Federal Building site.
The vote effectively killed a proposal made July 31 by businessman Bill Binnie during a public hearing on a petition by Revisit McIntyre. Residents have been divided about a proposal by the Redgate/Kane team, which had previously gained approval from the council.
“What I encourage you to do is do what anyone in business would do if they were selling a property worth $15 million,” Binnie said Monday. “They would ask for best and last and final offers.”
Councilor Josh Denton told Binnie, “I wish you had brought this forward in December of 2017 because that was the time to bring this forward.”
Redgate/Kane submitted its qualifications with other interested parties for consideration by the council in 2017.
Binnie challenged councilors to take 30 days so they could better consider the components of his plan.
Councilor Rebecca Perkins pointed out that the city is in the middle of a competitive process and she doesn’t think starting the bidding over is feasible.
Councilors did vote to submit Binnie’s plan to the McIntyre subcommittee. Then they discussed delaying the federal application by 60 days but decided against it, opting instead to give Manager John Bohenko the authority to apply to acquire the building for Historic Monument Purposes using the Redgate/Kane plan.
The Redgate/Kane proposal calls for building two large structures with commercial space on the ground floors. A total of 76 apartments with the average rent of $2,974 a month are planned for the site, which includes sheltered outdoor “hardscapes” for the public.
After the votes, Binnie released a public statement saying he is personally disappointed at the outcome.
“We worked hard to give the residents of Portsmouth a plan that was better economically and had more public value for the taxpayers of the city. We are really proud of our effort and loved the opportunity to fight for the people and we are sorry the city council didn’t see it that way,” the statement said.