Dear South Portland Community Members,
The Yard South is a bold redevelopment vision for South Portland. Our team at PK Realty Management understands the apprehension and concerns that accompany this type of transformation. Our goal for the Yard South Project is to develop a mixed-use, transit-oriented neighborhood that is guided by the One Planet Living principle that we should use no more than our fair share of the natural resources that the world can produce.
“No Yard South” is a group of South Portland residents who believe that housing should be built anywhere in South Portland except on these 30 acres of underutilized property. Their concerns are largely in response to statements made during community site walks last year or gleaned from a February pre-application meeting with City staff. The pre-application information is a draft and doesn’t reflect the City’s comments or our revisions. Despite conspiratorial theories that this process is being “fast tracked”, The Yard South Contract Zone Application has not been formally submitted and won’t be submitted for several more months.
As of this afternoon, “No Yard South” has not responded to our email proposing we discuss their concerns. Earlier this year, “Protect South Portland”, another citizens group that is opposed to the Yard South, declined our invitation to meet in person regarding misinformation they’ve published on their website. We still believe we have more in common with these groups than we do differences and hope to discuss our shared beliefs soon.
The spread of misinformation causes great harm and encourages mean spirited, destructive attacks within our community. It’s disruptive and blocks the ability to create the housing that is desperately needed in South Portland. We are eager to engage and encourage dialog, so let’s debunk some claims and add context to these NIMBY arguments.
Thank you, and as always please reach out to us with any questions, concerns, and feedback.
Jen, David, and Amy
Claim #1: PK Realty is a front for a California corporation.
PK Realty Management, LLC (PKRM or PK for short), was established in 2017 to manage properties in Maine owned by two families who have been long-time friends – the Packards and the Krinskys. PK grew out of the desire to invest in the future of Richard Packard’s home state, and to re-establish family roots that date back to the 1600s. PK Realty Management, LLC is owned by Richard Packard, David Krinsky, Jen Packard, and David Packard. These same individuals own The Yard South, LLC, the development company for the Yard South project.
The rationale behind these various LLC’s is to minimize risk and provide legal protection.
Jennifer is the CEO of PK and employs seven full-time staff members at their office headquarters in Portland, Maine. Under her leadership, PK has grown from managing two properties to seventeen properties, mostly industrial and a few residential. Five out of seven employees own dogs, one of us is more of a cat person.
Claim #2: The Yard South will provide only 60 Affordable units and the remaining will be Luxury.
The Yard South Contract Zone includes 120 Affordable Units or 10% of the total 1,200 units proposed. In addition, we are proposing height bonuses to encourage mixed income buildings with even more Affordable Housing. The Contract Zone defines Affordable Housing as dwelling units constructed to be affordable and reserved for households with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income, adjusted for family size, as defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.
These types of units are also referred to as LIHTC (pronounced Lie-tec) products because they are funded using Low Income House Credits. LIHTC deals are financed and structured differently than standard residential development.
Our goal is for the Yard South to be a mixed-income neighborhood. The Contract Zone does not include a “luxury” housing requirement or quantity of units.
Claim #3: Traffic will make commuting unbearable.
Imagine stepping out your door and walking to the market for fresh groceries. For exercise, you hop on your bike and pedal to Knightville for a cup of coffee. Later that evening, you board a water taxi to Portland to eat dinner with friends or take a bus to the mall to go shopping. This is the walkable, transit-oriented neighborhood and lifestyle that we want to create.
This project won’t happen overnight. The Yard South redevelopment will be constructed over three phases, each 4-6 years. Incremental development will allow us to ease traffic and other impacts gradually over time. If you couldn’t tell already, we are huge proponents of mass transit as an effective way to move lots of people and reduce traffic and carbon emissions. We will continue to advocate for a strong transit network that improves all of South Portland.
Claim #4: The Yard South won’t provide parking and will force cars to park in Ferry Village.
The Yard South prioritizes people over cars and the streets will be designed to include on-street parking, bike trails, sidewalks, and planting – this is known as a Complete Street. The Contract Zone text includes a no parking minimum requirement, so that developers can decide how many parking spaces they want to build. Over 1,400 cities across the country have eliminated or reduced parking requirements in various ways including Westbrook, Bath, Belfast, and Auburn.
Claim # 5: Brownfields are harmful to residents.
Brownfield remediation guidelines ensure that future users of The Yard South site are not exposed to any industrial contaminants.
The former Liberty Shipyard left behind contaminated soil. Cleanup activities must be performed in accordance with State (MaineDEP) and Federal (EPA) Brownfield standards that require the owner/developer to identify contaminants and to adequately remediate them prior to redevelopment. As a result of this effort, the site and Fore River will be made safer and cleaner than they are today.
Bug Light and Breakwater Condominiums are constructed on the same contaminated soil as the Yard South. Those sites have been capped with clean fill or paving and there is no longer contact between humans and contamination. A similar capping approach will be taken at the Yard South.
Claim #6: The Yard South is in a Flood Zone.
FEMA’s Preliminary Flood Insurance Study indicates that most of the Yard South property is located outside a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area. A small section along the shoreline is mapped as Zone VE Base Flood Elevation 13 feet NAVD88 Coastal High Hazard Area.
We performed a Flood Risk and Vulnerability assessment to characterize the current coastal flood hazards and the predicted coastal flood hazard by the year 2100. Our design and engineering team is assessing the feasibility of raising the site elevation and other effective and proven design resilience strategies.
Claim #7: The air quality is toxic and the tanks will remain.
The 2022 Health Assessment of VOC Monitoring Results for Portland – South Portland stated that “for the 16 chemicals with acute MRLs, none of the individual 24-hour sample results exceeded acute toxicity values.” LD71 passed last month and calls for fence line monitoring around the tank farms to be implemented in 2024.
We don’t know the long-term plans of our neighbors - Portland Montreal Pipeline or Gulf Oil. What we do know is that a sustainable development committed to zero carbon energy will move the needle towards a post-petroleum future.
Claim #8: Home values and taxes will rise as result of new development.
Home values and prices in South Portland and around the country are soaring due to increased demand and a supply shortage. Last year, South Portland established a goal to construct 2,905 housing units in the next seven years to help alleviate this issue. We believe that opposing the construction of new development will continue to drive home prices and the cost of development higher.
The Yard South will retain ownership of the streets, parks, and site infrastructure – meaning these elements won’t increase tax burden on the city. The Contract Zone application will include an Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis that demonstrates the effects of this development on fire and police services, water, and sewer, etc., assumptions about projected school enrollment, job projections, and more.
Claim #9: PK Realty wants to purchase the public boat launch or Bug Light Park.
We have no intention - now or in the future - of purchasing the recreational boat launch or Bug Light Park. They aren’t for sale.
Furthermore, in 1977 the City received grant funds to establish the Fore River boat launch facility. The money came from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and a restrictive covenant was placed on the land limiting its use only for public recreation. The LWCF Agreement requires that the City maintain title and management of the facility, and therefore it cannot be sold.
Claim #10: Working Waterfront and Industrial Use will be replaced by Housing.
The Yard South site currently has 400’ feet of eroding shoreline, a crumbling pier, and small ramp and float. Large scale piers crane, or other water related infrastructure improvements are not economically feasible. That infrastructure exists across the Fore River and is underutilized. The site is also not large enough to support an offshore wind turbine facility and the location is unappealing to large industrial tenants who require access to 295 or rail.
The Yard South is proposing a publicly accessible waterfront park and water transit connection. Water transit is a Working Waterfront component.
PK Realty is an active member of the Waterfront Alliance. We participate in monthly meetings with a diverse group of fishing industry experts, researchers, marina owners, etc.
Claim #11: The Packards plan to sell the property to many other developers.
PK Realty is the primary land developer for the site. PK will retain ownership of the streets, parks, and other site infrastructure and possibly some parcels or buildings. We will work with like-minded developers to build out the individual parcels. By “like-minded” we mean developers committed to sustainable practices and One Planet Living principles.
Why this model? Land development and energy systems are what we’re good at and what interests us. By focusing on infrastructure, and everything between buildings, we can create sophisticated energy networks (micro grids, district energy, geothermal, etc.), complete streets, trails, and parks that support sustainable buildings and community.