PORTSMOUTH — Developer Mark McNabb’s plan to create a mixed-use development on Lafayette Road is now calling for a total of 72 residential apartments on site, according to his representatives.
McNabb is planning two additions to the existing building at 581 Lafayette Road – which is located at the intersection of Lafayette Road and Ledgewood Drive. The building currently houses the Tour restaurant, which features golf simulators, and the Five 81° Northeast Thai restaurant.
The site, located in a shopping plaza area, was formerly home to the Tuscan Kitchen and the Jerry Lewis Cinema.
The 72 apartments are proposed to be various sizes, architect Tracy Kozak told the city’s Technical Advisory Committee during a meeting Tuesday. The development team’s proposal had initially called for 61 apartments.
Kozak, of ARCove Architects, told the committee a minimum of 15 of the proposed 72 units “will be work-force rental housing.”
The units, which will be located in the additions on the second, third, fourth and fifth floors, would range from studios to 5-bedroom apartments, she said.
The larger units would be located at the ends of each floor in the additions, and are aimed at being “extremely affordable housing … where there would be a roommate situation,” Kozak said.
All of the units will have access to a balcony, and on the top floor — the fifth floor — the proposal calls for “a rooftop community deck, and a rooftop lounge available for all residents of the buildings,” Kozak said.
“They’re fairly large, those are kind of the big amenities of the buildings,” she added.
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Kozak said the development is planned to feature “substantial solar arrays on top of each building, trying to get as close to net zero as possible.”
There are 36 units planned for each building addition, and the structures get “smaller as you go up with setbacks from the street,” she said.
The base zoning for the site allows 24 units per building, but developers are seeking the additional apartments and fifth floor through zoning incentives by providing the work-force housing, Kozak said.
“We’re paying special attention to sun shading to try to reduce solar heat gain while allowing natural light and access to the outdoors for every resident,” she said. “We think that’s really important.”
The two additions would be separated by the existing building, housing Tour and the Five 81° Northeast Thai restaurant, but will be connected at the basement level, Kozak said.
Developers plan to add new parking inside the building in the basement, Kozak said, and there is already outdoor parking around the building.
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McNabb previously said he is proposing to add residential units on site in the city’s Gateway district to provide much-needed housing for people who work in Portsmouth.
In addition to the Lafayette Road site, McNabb is trying to develop housing at a number of his properties in the city.
“I think we have a responsibility if we can to build housing when we’re local,” he said previously. “We have to build housing if we want to employ people and keep them.”
John Chagnon of Ambit Engineering is part of McNabb’s development team.
He pointed out in documents filed with the city that the purpose of the Gateway District “is to support the goals of the city’s master plan and housing policy.”
“The aim of the policy is to encourage walkable, mixed-use development, and continued economic vitality in the city’s primary gateway areas,” Chagnon said. “The district seeks to ensure that new developments complement and enhance the surroundings and provide housing stock that is suitable for changing demographics, and accommodate the housing needs of the city’s current and future workforce.”
Chagnon told TAC members the existing building “was sort of left in the same place” when it was changed from cinemas to a restaurant initially.
“It wasn’t a complete teardown, they saved the front of the building, and it was rebuilt,” Chagnon said. “The building placement was … forged over many years.”
The project will continue to be reviewed by TAC, and if it recommends approval, it will go to the Planning Board.