A rendering of the project shows the view of the apartment building from Summer Street in Bath. The one-bedroom units will be built in the half-acre lot where the Bath YMCA once stood. Photo courtesy of the Szanton Company

BATH — A Portland-based developer has released plans for a 50-unit apartment building in the vacant lot that formerly housed the Bath YMCA. The apartments are limited to people 55 and older.

The Szanton Company’s plan involves building 46 new apartments in the half-acre lot at 26 Summer St., across the street from the Patten Free Library, plus four loft-style apartments in the adjacent Columbia Block at 168-194 Front St.

Roughly 70% of the apartments would be reserved for households with an annual salary of $25,000-$38,000, with rents ranging from $690-$890 per month for a one-bedroom unit. The remaining 30% would be rented at market rates without limits to tenant incomes, according to the company.

The market rate for a one-bedroom apartment in Bath ranges from $1,100-$1,400 per month depending on the size, location and amenities, according to Nathan Szanton, president of the Szanton Company.

“Many older adults are looking to downsize to someplace where they can forgo home maintenance and become less dependent on driving,” said Amy Cullen, Szanton Company vice president and project manager. “When they move to this project, it will free up single-family homes in Bath for younger families.”

Szanton said Bath was craving more senior-exclusive, one-bedroom housing because one-bedroom apartments are in high demand at the Huse School apartment building in Bath, which the Szanton Company owns.

“There’s a real mismatch in Bath between the available housing and what people need,” said Szanton. “A lot of older homes and apartments are larger than people need and they’re not handicap accessible.”

Nearly 20% of Bath’s estimated 8,338 population is 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The project includes the purchase of the Moses and Columbia Blocks from Bath Housing, which purchased the buildings from the Sagadahock Real Estate Association last year, and updating the existing apartment units and renovating the facade.

Deb Keller, executive director of Bath Housing, said when Bath Housing purchased the Moses and Columbia Blocks, “We noted then that we were ‘exploring long-term options for the property with the goal of historic renovation, the addition of more residential apartments, and transitioning existing vacant spaces into occupied spaces to enliven the block and downtown.”

“In selling the properties to our partners at the Szanton Company, who own the vacant 26 Summer St. site, that is exactly what this combined project will do,” she added.

The project also will include rehabilitating the old YMCA gym in the Moses Block, bringing it back to its original appearance to be used as a community and fitness center room for residents.

“Historic renovation and rehab is something that’s exciting and fun for us,” said Cullen. “It makes the project more challenging, but it breathes new life into those old buildings. They shouldn’t be shuttered.”

Szanton said all the residents in the 10 apartment units and the stores in the six ground-level retail spaces in the Moses and Columbia Blocks will remain in place and have the same rent during and after the renovation.

The six commercial spaces in the Moses and Columbia Blocks, at 168 through 194 Front Street, include a portion of Lisa Marie’s Made in Maine; Loyal Biscuit Co; J’Adore Consignment; Open Door Books; the Mala Room; and the Library Book Store.

The Szanton Company is calling the project The Uptown, a nod to the movie theater that occupied the center of the site from 1938 to 1962. The theater was torn down to make way for the YMCA pool, which stood until 2012.

“We’re excited about revitalizing an important part of Bath’s historic downtown,” Szanton wrote in a statement. “Our project aims to do three things: rebuild the streetscape along Summer Street; provide high-quality housing for a variety of incomes in Bath; and bring 26 Summer Street onto the tax rolls.”

The half-acre lot at 26 Summer St. has been empty since 2012 when the old Bath YMCA was demolished after structural problems were discovered. The Bath YMCA relocated to its current home at 303 Centre St. and gave its former property to the city.

Construction of The Uptown would begin in the summer of 2021 contingent on the company’s approvals and financing.

Comments are not available on this story.