July 9 ó To the Editor:

The city of Portsmouth has an exciting and important opportunity Ė and a decision to make in the next month Ė on the future of the Thomas J. McIntyre Federal Building.

The redevelopment of the McIntyre site was a priority for me as an elected official, first as mayor and then during my tenure as city councilor. On the council, I voted in favor of moving forward with the Redgate-Kane proposal in 2017. Since leaving office, Iíve followed the project closely. Iím thrilled at where we have arrived both in terms of the project design and plan, and the public input process the city undertook to get there.

What excites me most about the Redgate-Kane plan is the number of new amenities and benefits it will deliver for our community that arenít currently available downtown.

Perhaps most important, the project will provide a major economic boost for our city and keep crucial businesses in downtown Portsmouth. Itís no secret that companies are increasingly seeking out vibrant urban centers for their headquarters. One of the biggest challenges the city faces when it comes to attracting and keeping these types of companies is the lack of large, modern office space options. The McIntyre project will create this much-needed space that is highly sought after by some of the regionís most innovative and growing businesses.

A prime example is HubSpot, which recently announced that it plans to become the anchor tenant at the new McIntyre building. When the company made the announcement, it cited a number of the projectís features Ė such as the open space, co-working spaces and lifestyle amenities Ė as key factors in the decision.

HubSpot is exactly the type of company we want to commit to Portsmouth. But if our city canít create the office space that their employees want, these businesses will almost certainly look elsewhere. Our city is fortunate that in addition to the large number or residents and tourists we attract, we can now be better positioned because of the McIntyre project to add new companies and jobs as well.

This is a project that will galvanize our city, attract new businesses and generate new opportunities in and around Portsmouth. It will also help to lower taxes and drive downtown activity throughout the year.

Just as important, the project will create vibrant indoor community space that can be utilized by the public year-round. This type of space is currently lacking downtown and was a key priority during the public input process. It will also help to create more non-seasonal activity downtown, which is crucial Ė particularly in the winter months. While some residents have indicated a desire for a large park on this site, Portsmouth is already home to several beautiful parks. What is needed is a space that can also be used no matter what the season or weather. And the Redgate-Kane plan will actually benefit our existing parks by generating new revenue that will go to maintaining and enhancing them.

The National Park Service has stringent requirements for the redevelopment of the McIntyre building. The Redgate-Kane plan is financially sustainable, it meets these requirements and it delivers on the benefits and priorities outlined by residents during the public input process. The city held dozens of public hearings and meetings on this project over the past year and a half. The project team participated in these meetings and listened to feedback from residents and other stakeholders. And they have incorporated that input into the final design plan.

The McIntyre building has been an eyesore downtown for far too long. Elected officials, residents, and city leaders have talked about its redevelopment for decades. Our community finally has the chance to move forward and make the long-held vision of this site Ė a vibrant, urban and welcoming space Ė a reality. Letís make the right choice and move forward with the Redgate-Kane plan and transform this site into a space that will benefit residents, our parks, taxpayers, businesses, and the community of Portsmouth.

Eric Spear is a former Portsmouth mayor and city councilor.