The proposed apartments are at 815 Lafayette Road

PORTSMOUTH — Developers proposing a 72-unit residential project on the former site of a WHEB radio station are set to discuss a major redevelopment project at Tuesday’s City Commission meeting.

Prospect North 815 LLC, owner of the property at 815 Lafayette Road, is also the project’s developers, according to documents filed with the city’s Planning Department.

They are proposing to demolish “the existing building along Sagamore Creek” and build three four-story, 24-unit multifamily buildings (72 total) with first-floor parking,” according to Patrick Crimmins of Tighe & Bond Inc., who works for the developers.

The project needs approvals from Portsmouth’s boards

WHEB radio station, which no longer operates at the site, according to the new owners, has long been a landmark on the well-traveled portion of Route 1 where the building is located.

As proposed, Crimmins said the redevelopment project “would require an exemption from the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for efforts to develop the front lot line within the usable front yard boundaries.”

“In addition, this project will require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for improvements within the 100-foot wetland buffer zone,” he added.

Details of apartment plans

Preliminary plans submitted to the city show each of the three residential buildings proposed for the site would have 9,750 square feet and 24 parking spaces per building.

There is also a much smaller proposed office building, located next to one of the apartment buildings, of 1,200 square feet, according to plans submitted to the city.

The developers also plan to include a waterfront park area at the site, which is located next to Sagamore Creek.

Access to the 19.6-acre site will come from the existing trailhead off Route 1, Crimmins said.

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The property is also located adjacent to the Lafayette Plaza shopping center and to the east by Winchester Place.

The developer’s plans include eight apartments on the second, third and fourth levels of each of the proposed apartment buildings, all of which will have first-floor parking.

All units shown in the preliminary plans have two bedrooms with a living/dining room, as well as one or two bathrooms.

Developers make the case for the project

The developers assert that the proposed redevelopment project “will be an environmental improvement to the existing condition and remove approximately 9,600 square feet of existing impervious surface in the 100-foot wetland buffer zone by removing the existing building and sidewalk located along Sagamore Creek.”

“These previously disturbed areas will be recreated with vegetation to provide buffer reinforcement,” Crimmins said. “In addition, the project will improve the quality of runoff water discharged to Sagamore Creek while adding stormwater treatment practices not currently in place at the site.”

The property owners, Prospect North 815 LLC, purchased the property for $2.1 million on Sept. 30, 2022, according to the assessor’s website.

The previous owner was Clear Channel Broadcasting Inc., which bought the site for $3 million in January 2001, according to assessor records.

The redevelopment project is scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s meeting of the Site Review Technical Advisory Committee, which is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and will be held in Conference Room A at City Hall.

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