After last winter’s snow and ice, Friderika Gilroy, 88, realized the upkeep on her three-story house in Fryeburg was too much for her and her husband.

So Gilroy and her husband bought the first house at the Bridgton Senior Courtyard, a proposed 60-unit condominium project that has been planned for three years. Gilroy herself has been helping with the planning process for the past year.

On June 30, the Gilroys got a step closer to a new home as the sale of 38 acres for the project was completed.

Construction on the land, which is a quarter of a mile from Bridgton Hospital, will begin within the next two weeks.

Ingrid von Kannewurff, who initiated the idea, said she hopes to build 10 more units next year, either duplex houses or apartments. The purchase of the land was paid for with private funds and future building is dependent on purchases. The first two houses are slated to be finished by November.

Von Kannewurff, 73, of Bridgton started to work on the senior housing project out of frustration. As a volunteer at the Bridgton Community Center, she saw local seniors struggling to access services that would allow them to stay in the Bridgton area.

“The older people cannot manage their lawn anymore,” Von Kannewurff said, adding that some people have moved to retirement communities on the coast, but that it’s hard to start over and make new friends late in life.

Von Kannewurff and her husband plan to move into an apartment at the Bridgton Senior Courtyard when they are built. “The house is getting too big for us,” Von Kannewurff said, adding that she finds it hard to take care of her yard and garden and deal with the snow in the winter.

The proposed housing will be handicapped accessible and association fees will pay for maintenance costs. Ranging from 900 to 1,500 square feet, units will sell for approximately $200,000 to $250,000. The whole complex will include 60 units, including duplexes and apartments, as well as community space.

Von Kannewurff said she plans to collaborate with Efficiency Maine to increase energy-efficiency. “What I would like to do is build as green as possible,” Von Kannewurff said.

“Hopefully there will be an opportunity for us to provide incentives for that project to make smart energy choices,” said Fred Bever of Efficiency Maine. Bever said cash incentives from $20 to $2,500 could be available for installations in the common spaces, such as efficient lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as energy efficient motors and refrigeration.

“I want this to be a real community,” Von Kannewurff said. She designed the buildings herself and included an indoor garden, adult center with room for classes and offices and a restaurant. There will be indoor walkways between the buildings and the garden, senior center and restaurant will be open to the public.

“I hope it fills a gap for middle-income folks,” said Fay Daley, one of six people who have helped Von Kannewurff with the project over the past year. “The purpose of this is so they can age in place.”

For more information call Ingrid von Kannewurff at 647-5389.

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