WATERVILLE — A plan to demolish St. Francis de Sales Church and build a 40-unit senior-housing complex has cleared a major step.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved more than $6.2 million in funding for the project, which aims to provide nondenominational housing for low-income people 62 and older. The department will also subsidize a percentage of each resident’s rent.

If the city planning board grants approval, the complex — dubbed St. Francis Apartments — could be ready in two years.

Plans for the housing complex are still in the formative stages, said Mike Hebert, facilities manager for Corpus Christi Parish, an organization that owns St. Francis de Sales and six other churches in the greater Waterville area.

If city officials approve, Corpus Christi Parish will sell St. Francis de Sales to St. Francis Apartments Corp., a pending nonprofit organization to be established by the Diocesan Bureau of Housing in Portland. That entity would manage the project and the property through a local board of directors.

The building had been on the market unsuccessfully for four years, most recently for $800,000, Hebert said.