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Regional planning study includes Portland's India Street neighborhood

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Regional planning study includes Portland's India Street neighborhood

PORTLAND — The city's India Street neighborhood is one of 10 areas in southern Maine selected for a pilot study in a regional planning project.

The Sustain Southern Maine project will look at ways to attract residential and commercial growth to the neighborhood while preserving its character and livability, according to a City Hall press release.

The goal is to “take an emerging urban fringe mixed-use neighborhood and help develop a vision for enhanced growth and density without losing the existing vibe.”

Sustain Southern Maine was launched in 2010 with the help of a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It now includes a partnership of 40 community organizations and municipalities, stretching from Kittery to Brunswick and led by the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

The India Street neighborhood study, expected to be completed in early 2014, will focus on an area roughly bordered by Commercial, Congress, Franklin and Hancock streets.

The study will explore how new housing, jobs and community amenities can influence the economic and environmental sustainability of the neighborhood. Findings will ultimately help guide other communities manage growth, the release said.

Sustain Southern Maine plans to begin the study by gathering input from neighborhood residents. An open house is scheduled for March 16 and a public meeting will follow on April 30, according to the project's website.

“Due to a location close to both downtown and the waterfront, the India Street neighborhood has attracted significant development interest. It’s important for the city to make sure that this growth does not diminish the neighborhood’s existing charm and appeal as a mixed-use center," Mayor Michael Brennan said.

"The Sustain Southern Maine process will help give residents and those close to the neighborhood an opportunity to weigh in on these issues and ensure that the neighborhood can absorb growth in a positive manner."

The Sustain Southern Maine study comes as Portland is expected to begin work later this year on a master plan for the India Street neighborhood, one of the city's oldest. The neighborhood has also been selected for a historic preservation survey by the city Planning & Urban Development Department.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.