India Street Neighborhood

the issue

The City of Portland undertook development of a master plan for the India Street Neighborhood. Landmarks actively participated in the India Street Sustainable Neighborhood planning process. Staff and volunteers were involved in the development of a new zoning for the neighborhood and development of a historic district to protect the resources in the neighborhood from the rapid redevelopment the area has experienced in the last decade.

Our Position

The India Street neighborhood is a small area between the densely-developed Old Port and downtown districts and the primarily residential neighborhood of Munjoy Hill. Large portions of the neighborhood were lost during slum clearance projects and the construction of Franklin Arterial in the 1960s and 1970s. In recent years, large scale development on empty lots near the waterfront has altered the small-scale character of the historic neighborhood.

Landmarks supported the India Street Sustainable Neighborhood Plan recommendation to create a historic district to protect the neighborhood’s historic commercial, institutional, and residential buildings. On November 2nd, 2015 the Portland City Council adopted the recommendation of the Historic Preservation Board and the Planning Board to create an India Street Historic District and a new form-based code for new development in neighborhood!

The India Street Historic District celebrates the history of immigrants and working people of Portland's past, while encouraging sensitive new infill construction on vacant lots, flexibility of building use, and architectural innovation. The district boundaries focus on the area with the highest concentration of historic synagogues and churches, commercial storefronts, schools and civic structures such as the North School, India Street Fire Station, Shaarey Tphiloh Synagogue, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and St. Peter's Church. 


Since its adoption, several historic rehabilitation projects within the district's boundaries have successfully completed the review process and are under construction. In February 2016 an owner of a couple of historic residential properties just outside the boundaries of the district on Federal Street requested that their buildings be added to the district in order to qualify for historic preservation tax credits. The Historic Preservation Board and Planning Board unanimously recommended that the boundaries of the district be expanded and the owner’s multi-family residences 96 and 100 Federal Street be classified as contributing buildings in the historic district. 

The Portland City Council unanimously passed the owner-requested expansion of the India Street Historic District in late June.  Both residences are significant as examples of building forms constructed to accommodate a need for a greater density of housing in the neighborhood at the turn of the 20th century, a need created by Portland’s growing immigrant population. These two buildings were once home to immigrants from Russia, Scotland, Spain, Italy, Lithuania and France, occupants who reflect the past and ongoing diversity of the India Street neighborhood.

Landmarks supported the inclusion of the properties at 96 and 100 Federal Street in the India Street Historic District throughout the process in order to protect the remaining exterior character defining features; to support the goals of the India Street Sustainable Neighborhood Plan; and to provide the owners access to historic preservation tax credits. Local designation of the properties at 96 and 100 Federal Street, buildings that are not individually eligible for the National Register but do contribute to the overall historic character of this urban neighborhood, supports needed reinvestment in these historic residential properties. That reinvestment will benefit the ongoing revitalization of the India Street neighborhood and return needed housing units to the community. 


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