New Hampshire’s respected 24-year former State Architectural Historian, James L. Garvin, warns that what happens to the waterfront side of the contested development at 173-5 Market Street could have ominous repercussions for the city’s antique buildings.
The HDC refused to rehear a project that would wrap two sides of this antique waterfront building in new brick and add a huge addition to the waterfront side
The contested redevelopment and expansion of the 19th century building at 173-5 Market St where Frank Jones stored grain involves restoring the Market Street side of the building,, covering two other sides with old-looking new brick and adding an enormous, starkly modern addition to its waterfront side which critics say will all but obliterate the view of the antique building from the water.
The “issue of the immense addition is a grave matter that could set an irrevocable precedent to the treatment of historic buildings in Portsmouth,” wrote Garvin, author of a book on Portsmouth’s 19th century brick buildings, http://www.james-garvin.com/images/Portsmouth,_Early_Brick_Buildings.pdf . “Given the moderation of the original proposals for treating the original building, the addition remains the most momentous issue confronting the HDC and city government as a whole.”
The huge new addition could set a momentous precedent for the treatment of Portsmouth’s antique buildings, retired State Architectural Historian James L. Garvin warns
The Portsmouth Historic District Commission on Wed. night refused to rehear its approvals of the waterfront project and of a second football-field-sized project at 111 Maplewood Ave. Concerned about the city’s future, critics of both projects (including this writer), joined abutters and others to appeal for the rehearing, with the current Portsmouth Advocates signing on to one appeal, and a founder of the group signing on to both.
During the Nov. 6 HDC meeting, one member of the board charged with protecting the Historic District’s fragile antique buildings recused herself from voting on whether to rehear the two cases.
Nick Cracknell, to the right, is the Planning Department’s staff advisor assigned to the HDC
HDC Vice Chair Tracy Kozak asked to recuse herself “due to a conflict of interest which has arisen between a party affiliated with the applicant and the company for which I work.” Kozak did not name the company, but she is listed on the web as an associate with JSA, Inc., an architectural firm at the Pease International Tradeport.
HDC Chair Joseph Almeida voted against rehearing both contested projects
On Aug. 7, Kozak voted to approve the massive Piscataqua River waterfront development project, and was part of the HDC majority that granted the first exception to the downtown’s new 45-foot height limit to allow the project to go through.
Refusing to rehear 173-5 Market St last night were HDC Chair Joseph Almeida, alternate Daniel Rawling in Kozak’s place, John Wyckoff and Richard Katz. Voting to rehear were Esther Kennedy, City Council Rep to the HDC, George Melchior and William Gladhill, Planning Board Rep. to the HDC.
Refusing to rehear 111 Maplewood Ave were HDC Chair Joseph Almeida, Vice Chair Tracy Kozak, John Wyckoff and Richard Katz. Voting to rehear were Esther Kennedy, City Council Rep to the HDC, George Melchior and William Gladhill.
Esther Kennedy and George Melchior argued for rehearing both projects
In arguing against rehearing the case, HDC-member Richard Katz publicly referred to critics of the HDC approvals who cited his comments about another case to bolster their current case as “pedants.” “I’m happy to see there are still pedants in the world,” Katz declared emphatically. “Pedant” is a pejorative term for “nitpicker” which most folks find insulting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG1A55Qov_0&feature=c4-overview&list=UUXUNd8goAjKxc_aXfvXIKdw
HDC-member Richard Katz (on left) described some critics as “pedants”
Meawhile, Garvin says that what happens to the former Carter’s Antiques is a matter that all Portsmouth city government should pay attention to. This writer often interviewed Garvin for The Boston Globe about historic preservation issues during 19-plus years of reporting for the Globe, is familiar with his reputation and expertise, and was therefore interested in his reaction to a YouTube video showing Portsmouth City Councilor Tony Coviello outlining his engineering plans for the antique building at 173-5 Market St The video has since apparently been removed.
Reacting via email on Nov. 1, Garvin wrote, in part:
“These issues pertaining to the original building, ill-advised though some of them are, are an improvement over the originally proposed treatment. Still, the engineering plan could have benefited greatly from consultation with a preservationist or building conservator,” wrote Garvin.
“The remaining issue of the immense addition is a grave matter that could set an irrevocable precedent to the treatment of historic buildings in Portsmouth. Given the moderation of the original proposals for treating the original building, the addition remains the most momentous issue confronting the HDC and city government as a whole. It is troubling to me that an elected city official is acting as a proponent of a project that will, if carried out, result in an irreversible alteration to a historic building.” http://www.james-garvin.com/resume.html
The two appeals are headed for the Board of Adjustment.