The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability recently release the Discussion Draft of the Naito Main Street / Ross Island Bridgehead Land Use Plan. This draft plan includes potential comprehensive plan and zoning changes, changes to street classifications, and a vision for the future redevelopment of land currently occupied by obsolete transportation facilities. The plan was developed over several years (2018-21) with input from a variety of stakeholders. The project was made possible by a grant from Metro, which helped fund several planning initiatives in the Southwest Corridor.
In June 2021, PBOT published a Conceptual Design Report outlining the preliminary design of the BPS Naito Parkway Main Street + Ross Island Bridgehead Project. The BPS document includes a set of complementary land use changes and other community development measures intended to shape the future development of the area around the west end of the Ross Island Bridge.
Status of the Ross Island Bridgehead project
With the defeat of Metro's proposed $5 billion regional transportation funding measure in November 2020, the timing of new high-capacity transit along Barbur Blvd — and the planned Ross Island Bridgehead realignment — is uncertain. However, both projects are still part of the City’s Transportation System Plan, which includes a list of transportation investments needed to serve expected growth over the next 20 years.
The expectation is that both projects (Naito Parkway and Ross Island Bridgehead) will eventually be built in some form and, when they do move forward, the projects will have significant impacts on the future of South Portland. Until a new funding strategy is developed for these important regional transportation investments, many aspects of the Naito Main Street / Ross Island Bridgehead Land Use Plan recommendations and implementation will remain uncertain.
NUNM campus relocation
In Fall 2021, the National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) announced that their campus would be put up for sale, and the school would eventually move out of its current South Portland location. As of July 2022, a sale and relocation have not occurred and the campus is still zoned CI2 (campus institutional). A possible change in ownership and use of that campus adds more uncertainty, but could create additional opportunities.
Based on the uncertain status of the transportation investments that are the foundation of the plan, and considering the future of the NUNM campus, BPS has put the Naito Main Street / Ross Island Bridgehead Land Use Plan on hold with the release of this Discussion Draft and will not be immediately developing a Proposed Draft for the Planning and Sustainability Commission’s consideration. However, we still encourage public comments, and staff are available to answer questions.
Once a funding strategy is identified for the Ross Island Bridgehead transportation improvements and construction planning resumes, BPS will determine next steps (3 to 5 years out), which might include:
- Proceed with the recommended text and map amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Map, including amending the TSP classification maps. Based on public feedback, the bureau would develop a Proposed Draft and schedule hearings at the Planning and Sustainability Commission.
- Reconvene stakeholders and update equity-related recommendations based on any new information at that time. Continue a discussion of community benefits from redevelopment of publicly owned opportunity sites around the bridgehead.
- Consider the future use of the NUNM campus. If the campus changed ownership, there would be an opportunity to update the plan to incorporate appropriate land use changes on the campus.
- Reconfirm the feasibility of other implementation strategies in the plan.