CUMBERLAND – Two major residential developments in the village center promise to attract nearly 60 families and provide affordable apartments for some of the 150 senior citizens on the town’s waiting list for housing.

Both projects are proposed by Bateman Partners, a Portland real estate development firm that is collaborating with town officials to address various community needs, said Town Manager Bill Shane. The 59-lot Village Green proposal is the largest of its kind in Cumberland in more than 20 years.

“We’ve worked hard over the last few years to make our ordinances and our comprehensive plan much more friendly to the right kind of businesses and development,” he said. “Because without growth, we cannot afford to preserve the rural character and community feel that has made this town so attractive.”

The Town Council is set today (Sept. 12, 2011) to approve a long-term lease agreement with Bateman Partners that will allow the firm to convert the recently vacated Drowne Road School into 38 handicapped-accessible apartments for seniors. The council also is expected to ask the Planning Board for a zoning change that will allow the high-density, $7 million project.

Further down Drowne Road, the Village Green proposal is up for final Planning Board approval Sept. 20. The $22 million project would include 36 single-family homes and 11 duplexes and would connect Drowne Road to Wyman Way and Main Street (Route 9), said Nathan Bateman, the firm’s vice president.

“These projects address the town’s need to increase enrollment in its schools and allow older residents to remain in town at an affordable rate,” Bateman said.

Bateman Partners operates about 600 units of rental housing across Maine, from low-income apartments to luxury townhouses. The company has nearly completed Tidewater Farm, a 50-lot, single-family subdivision in Falmouth. Two weeks ago, it started renovating the former Sullivan School in Berwick into 34 affordable family apartments. And it’s seeking Planning Board approval in Portland to build the Inn on Great Diamond Island.

Town officials selected Bateman Partners through competitive bidding for both projects, Shane said. The firm plans to develop Village Green on 41 acres known as the Doane property, which it purchased from the town in March for $425,000. The town bought the land for $200,000 about 15 years ago, intending to build housing for seniors on the parcel.

Contractors will start building houses Nov. 1, and homeowners will start moving in in April, Bateman said. No lots have been sold, but interest has been strong, he said. Prices will range from $280,000 to $400,000.

Town officials have negotiated a 99-year lease for the Drowne Road School that calls for a $480,000 initial payment and $23,000 annual payments in lieu of taxes, Shane said. The annual payments will increase as property taxes increase.

Bateman Partners will present a concept design to the Planning Board on Sept. 20 and submit formal subdivision and site plans in October. Construction will begin as soon as possible.

The project will create one- and two-bedroom apartments that will rent for $800 to $900 per month. It will take some pressure off the 30 senior townhouses managed by the Cumberland Housing Authority, which has a growing waiting list. The town also has more than 150 privately owned condos for residents age 55 and older, valued at $325,000 to $600,000 each.

“We’ve become the silver coast of Cumberland County,” Shane said. “There are a lot of seniors who can’t afford or don’t want to tie up their money and would rather rent. The Drowne Road School project answers their needs.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com