Press Herald property sale: 30-story building far higher than city allows

While the Press Herald is reporting today that developer John Cacoulidis wants to buy the real estate owned by the Press Herald and convert one of its parcels into a 30-story high-rise, unfortunately its new regime is allowing its reporters and editors to remain credulous and not check stuff out. (Yes, it's gotta be difficult to call into question a real-estate deal that the union you're a member of needs to solidify its ownership stake. But that's no excuse.)

Unfortunately, 30 stories is far higher than any existing building in the city, and is half again as high as the tallest building allowed under city zoning ordinances, which max out at 210 feet plus a 40-foot allowance for a roof decoration and other enclosures that have to go on a roof.

A rough guideline for tower height is 10 feet per story, so a 30-story building would be 300 feet tall, give or take a few. So the city's max allowable height is roughly 20 stories.

And the site Cacoulidis says he wants to use for a 30-story skyscraper (the former printing plant at 385 Congress Street), presently has height restrictions that prevent buildings on that lot from being taller than 150 fee, or roughly 15 stories.

For Cacoulidis's plan to work (and remember, this is a guy who wanted to put up two 35-story towers in the middle of the Portland International Jetport's landing-approach route), the city would have to agree to let him put up a building literally twice as tall as they now allow on that site.

It has been observed by others that a purchase-and-sale agreement with Richard Connor doesn't appear to be especially binding, given the number he went through with the Blethens. But it's a common feature in real-estate deals for the purchaser to impose conditions under which, if the city won't at least give general approval to a conceptual plan, the deal is off.

I'm working to confirm whether such a condition is part of this deal, as well as whether anyone in city government would consider approving such a massive zoning variance.

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