The former Notre Dame de Lourdes Church on Cutts Avenue in Saco is pictured Monday. If a contract zone is approved by the City Council, the existing church building and adjacent spaces could become developed into 80 mixed market-rate and senior apartments.

The former Notre Dame de Lourdes Church on Cutts Avenue in Saco is pictured Monday. If a contract zone is approved by the City Council, the existing church building and adjacent spaces could become developed into 80 mixed market-rate and senior apartments.

SACO — The City Council on Monday unanimously granted initial approval to the first reading of a contract zone to convert a former church on Cutts Avenue into market-rate apartments.

The council set a public hearing for Nov. 7 on the proposed redevelopment of the former Notre Dame de Lourdes Church into as many as 80 one-bedroom apartments, each measuring between 700 and 800 square feet.

The applicant, Cutts Avenue LLC, went before the Planning Board on Oct. 4 seeking a contract zone to build the development because the proposal calls for a higher housing density than city code currently allows. For plans to move forward, a second, final approval by the council is needed.

If approved, the contractor, Hardypond Construction, plans to build up to 25 market-rate apartments inside the church building, which would be also rehabilitated.

The company is also looking at demolishing the adjoining rectory building. Frank Carr, Hardypond director of business development, told the Journal Tribune in September a new building would be built on the former rectory site, and would be comprised of 30 senior housing apartments.

A third building of 30 units is proposed in the space currently occupied by the church’s parking lot.

The council in its meeting packet said the proposed development is a “rare opportunity” to convert an existing landmark and bring it into the 21st century.

“Cities must encourage greater residential density in their downtowns – where people live and congregate. Services will spring up to meet the demand. Staff fully supports the Planning Board recommendation that would allow this project to move forward,” the council’s packet said.

The contract zone would reduce the number of required parking spaces from 47 to 33, and reduce the side and rear setbacks from 10 feet to five feet.

In a letter to the council, Carr requested the addition of an extra council meeting prior to Nov. 7 – the next scheduled council meeting – to move the project forward before Nov. 21, when the second reading is scheduled.

City Administrator Kevin Sutherland motioned to add a council meeting next Monday to hold the hearing, a motion approved by all members of the council.

However, because of a city ordinance that requires seven days’ notice prior to holding a public hearing, the hearing is still scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7, during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

— Staff Writer Alan Bennett can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 329 or [email protected]


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