The Gorham Planning Board Monday approved an Avesta plan to add 27 apartments for seniors at its Ridgewood complex off School Street. Robert Lowell / American Journal

GORHAM — A four-story, senior housing project will begin to rise later this year off School Street (Route 114) in the growing town.

The Planning Board Monday voted 6-0 (Vincent Grassi absent) to approve Avesta Housing Development Corp.’s plan to construct 27 more units at its Ridgewood site across the street from the University of Southern Maine campus.

Nate Howes, an Avesta development officer, said before the meeting that he hopes construction of the 22,520-square foot building named Hillside would start by end of this year. The building, for residents age 55 and up, will have 22 one-bedroom apartments and five with two bedrooms.

The existing Ridgewood I complex has 20 dwelling units and Ridgewood II, 24 units. The Hillside project adds 20 parking spaces, upping the number to 67 spots for that Avesta campus.

A former office building used for storage at the site will be razed to make way for Hillside.

The Planning Board began its review the project on July 15 in 2019 after it was introduced to the Planning Board on Feb. 4. The project had been placed on a consent agenda in September pending approval of a contract zone amendment needed for the project that the Town Council passed in November.

There was no board or public discussion of the project this week before Planning Board member James Anderson made a motion for approval that was seconded by Planning Board member Mike Richman.

Avesta hopes some day the town will okay a stop at the facility for Metro buses that serve the nearby university campus.

The property once served the community with educational buildings. A brick, female seminary was built in 1836 on the site and later was utilized as a dormitory for a forerunner of the University of Southern Maine. It burned in 1894.

The town voted in 1926 to construct Gorham Junior High School known as the Training School at the site.

Subsequently, the building was called the Campus Elementary School before its name was changed to the Charlotte Millett School and was ultimately demolished.

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