WESTBROOK – Work will begin next week on a new 34-unit affordable housing complex for the elderly on the Presumpscot River.

Spring Crossing, to be located at 19 Ash St., will be the first project built by the Westbrook Housing Authority since 2003. The $3.3 million project addresses a strong demand for elderly housing.

Spring Crossing will feature 31 one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments for people aged 55 and older. Three of the apartments will be handicapped-accessible, and the remainder will be designed to be easily adaptable for handicapped residents.

The building, expected to be finished next spring, will provide about 100 construction jobs.

Tami Exchange, the authority’s senior property manager, said the property is well-suited for residents looking to downsize. She said residents will be within walking distance of many downtown restaurants, stores, banks and churches.

“It’s close enough to the city for shopping and shows, yet it has a small-town feel where people can walk down Main Street and shop,” Exchange said. “Seniors like that.”

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said housing developments like Spring Crossing give elderly residents an opportunity to remain in the city. He said the project also benefits downtown merchants.

“This provides a housing option that has clear benefits to the aging population for the community,” Bryant said.

It took Barbara Henry a few months to get into Presumpscot Commons, where she has lived for the past seven years. Henry, 79, said she likes the convenience of being so close to downtown.

“I don’t drive anymore,” she said. “While people are very gracious about helping me, I can walk to the stores down here.”

Judy Dunphe, 66, has lived at Presumpscot for the past year. Dunphe said she loves her apartment, and that Dunkin’ Donuts and the post office are nearby. “It’s just big enough,” Dunphe said of her home.

City officials say an estimated 23 percent of Westbrook’s residents are elderly, and the demand for housing that meets their needs will only grow.

The authority maintains 445 units in six senior housing facilities across the city.

Spring Crossing will be built near Presumpscot Commons, a 29-unit development the authority owns at 765 Main St. It also owns market rate apartments at 783 and 789 Main St.

The housing authority received 300 applications for a spot in Presumpscot Commons when it built the facility in 2003. Exchange, the property manager, said there’s a long list of seniors waiting to get in.

She said the agency will send a letter to qualified applicants for the new complex in the fall.

“Some folks have waited three to four years to get into Presumpscot Commons,” Exchange said.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]