Portland board postpones discussion of historic designation for Reed School

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PORTLAND — Discussion about a vacant city school’s possible designation as a historic landmark was tabled last week, and isn’t scheduled to resurface soon.

The vacant Thomas B. Reed School at 28 Homestead Ave. was slated to go before the Historic Preservation Board Jan. 6. On Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 5, the item was removed from the agenda. It is not on the agenda for the board’s upcoming Jan. 13 meeting.

Deb Andrews, the city’s historic preservation manager, said Reed isn’t on the upcoming agenda because the board was too busy preparing other business for the meeting.

“We don’t have a date for it to come back,” Andrews said. “That’s not to say it won’t be a on a future agenda, but we haven’t discussed a future date.”

Neighbors said they were concerned that designating the building a historic landmark would have locked them into a development larger than they wanted for their neighborhood. City officials maintained the discussion would be less of a hearing and more of a conversation and a preliminary step.

In a Jan. 4 email to the Reed School Reuse Task Force, Senior Planner Christine Grimando said the formal nomination process could not begin until detailed background documentation has been prepared.

“Pulling together background documentation hasn’t begun, and any consideration of a designation would be months away,” Grimando’s email said.

The city is still working on drafting a request for proposals from two developers interested in turning the building into senior housing. One is a collaboration between Avesta Housing and Developers Collaborative LLC, and the other is from Community Housing of Maine.

The maximum number of units that can be constructed at Reed is 36, which neighbors say is too large for the area.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

The vacant Thomas B. Reed School at 28 Homeland Ave., Portland.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.