LISBON — A housing company wants to build an eight-unit condominium development at 9 Merrill Ave., currently the site of vacant two-unit apartment building.

According to an application submitted to the town, the existing apartment building on the 0.69-acre site would be demolished as part of the project proposed by Standish-based Gervais Homes, LLC. The property is assessed at $136,300 according to the town’s online assessing database.

Located in a dense neighborhood in Lisbon Village, the lot is about 500 feet from Route 196, the main corridor in town connecting Lewiston to Topsham.  The project still needs local approval before it can move forward.

Attempts to reach Gervais Homes last week for comment were unsuccessful.

Brett Richardson, Lisbon’s economic and community development director, said the proposal is a sign of Lisbon’s progress.

“In general, Lisbon has seen a lot of reinvestment and this is another example of where demand is creating new opportunities in the community,” Richardson said. “Housing is a big need in Lisbon and throughout southern Maine and to see a dense development like that that creates eight new units and represents new investment in town is really encouraging and positive confirmation of the momentum in Lisbon.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Richardson said the housing market is picking up more as people work remotely, and communities like Lisbon are going to become more attractive. Creating dense housing developments keep costs down and accommodate folks looking for nice communities like Lisbon with fresh air and outdoor recreation opportunities and that offer the ability to have a high quality of life while working remotely, he added.

Maine has seen a housing crunch in the past year, as people living in more populous states look to move to more rural areas. Aaron Bolster, President of Maine Association of Realtors, said 25% of Maine homebuyers in 2019 were from outside of Maine, which jumped to 33% after the pandemic hit in 2020.

According to the Maine Association of Realtors and Maine Listings, Maine home sales increased 9.8% for all single-family existing homes sold during 2020. The statewide median sales price reached $256,000— an increase of 13.8%.

The number of units sold in Androscoggin County, which includes Lisbon, rose by 4% from 1,171 to 1,223 units where the median sales price rose $17% from $175,000 in 2019 to $205,000 in 2020, according to the association.

Projected sales prices for the proposed Lisbon condos were not included in the initial Jan.14 application submitted to the town.

“I think the condo market has already been strong in Maine and other places but because of the baby boomers that are constantly retiring and ready to sell their homes,” Bolster said.

These are homeowners who have been mowing their lawns, plowing their driveways and who may be looking for a home that requires less maintenance.

“They want to enjoy the benefits of homeownership so the condo I think is super appealing to that group of the population that we have here in Maine,” Bolster said.

Lisbon-based realtor Cheryl Haggerty of Lisbon-based Haggerty Realty said Saturday that she is aware of very few if any condos in Lisbon. However, like Bolster, she didn’t doubt their ability to sell if the market holds steady and strong. There are few homes going on the market so those that do sell fast, she said.

“Everything we have in Lisbon selling at or overprice,” Haggerty said. “Basically we list property and we wait a few days or a week, collect offers for the seller and they usually have multiple offers over the listing price.”

 

 

 

 

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