Gorham Community Development Director Tom Poirier, left, Planning Board member James Anderson and Planning Board Chairman George Fox view Avesta’s proposed site of a four- story senior housing project at a site walk. Robert Lowell/American Journal

GORHAM — A four-story elderly housing project proposed by Avesta now hinges on the Town Council amending an earlier contract zone at Avesta’s Ridgewood complex.

The site is across School Street from the University of Southern Maine campus.

The Planning Board Monday recommended the council adopt an amendment that would allow demolition of an office and storage building at the site to make way for the new project and discuss a deal to add a public bus stop for the project.

The Planning Board then voted 5-0 (Scott Firmin was absent and new member James Hall abstained) to place the proposed new building, Hillside at Village Square, on a future Planning Board consent agenda. Tom Poirier, the town’s director of community development, said final Planning Board approval can not be granted until the council amends the contract zone.

Avesta’s site includes Ridgewood 1 and Ridgewood 2, that are also senior housing buildings.

Nate Howes of Avesta said at Monday’s meeting that the proposed 22,520-square-foot building would have 27 units. It would include 22 one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom apartments.

Ridgewood 1 has 20 dwelling units and Ridgewood 2, 24.

Howes said parking plans would add 20 new spaces for a total of 67 spaces at the complex.

Howes said during a site walk on July 30 that Avesta has a waiting list of about 290 applicants for housing at the location.

Bronze plaques on granite stones recognize historical significance of the Avesta site.

The property had been the site of a female seminary built in 1836 and later converted in 1878 to a dormitory for the Gorham Normal School, a forerunner of USM. The three-story brick structure was destroyed by fire in 1894.

The town in 1926 voted to build Gorham Junior High School, known as the Training School, there. It subsequently was named Campus School and then Charlotte Millett School before being razed.

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