SCARBOROUGH — Development at the former public safety building site on 246 U.S. Route 1 will include affordable senior housing after the Scarborough Town Council voted to approve an agreement with Avesta Housing on June 30.

The project, a 31-unit senior affordable housing complex, will be a part of a village-like setting that developers told the Town Council they had envisioned for the project during a Jan. 26 workshop. Other businesses on the property could include a grocer, a bank and a fitness center.

Construction is scheduled to start in the spring of 2022 as long as all funding is secured, said Nate Howes, development officer, in an email to the Leader.

“There will be 30 one-bedroom units and 1 efficiency unit,” he said. “The one-bedroom units are around 575 square feet and the efficiency is around 450 square feet. The units will have access to a community room, laundry facilities, and a bike room. Tenants will also have ready access to a grocer and community gym which are planned for the former fire and police stations. Those are being developed separately of the affordable housing.”

The units are restricted to Mainers ages 55 and older, and are set aside for households with 60 percent or less of the Area Median Income, Howes said.

The town will enter a Credit Enhancement Agreement with Avesta Housing, reimbursing 75 percent of real estate taxes on the increased value paid over a 20-year period. According to meeting materials, “Estimated total reimbursement over the twenty-year term of the CEA is $555,440 to the Developer, leaving $162,929 in property tax revenue to the Town’s General Fund and $22,218 to be deposited in the Town’s TIF Account.”

A grant approval of $200,000 from the Affordable Housing Initiative Fund was previously approved by the Town Council to go towards the project.

Jack Soley, developer of other portions of the site, told the Town Council at a workshop in January that COVID-19 had created difficulty in securing tenants, and Avesta Housing purchased a portion of the site last fall.

Council Chair Paul Johnson said on June 30 that the CEA is only with Avesta Housing and does not include any other development on the site.

“When we look at what we’re giving up, so to speak, I think what we get in return — not only will we have affordable senior housing, which is a plus, but I think it’s going to lead to a much more successful project there,” he said. “There’s going to be a ton of value that’s outside of the CEA, so I’m excited for it.”

Other councilors voiced support for the affordable senior housing, including Councilor John Cloutier.

“I’m proud that Scarborough is able to embrace projects like this,” he said. “I know some of our neighboring communities are a little less receptive to affordable housing, and I think it’s an important topic and it’s important for our residents so I’m proud we’re able to do things like this.”

Councilor Betsy Johnson, who did not support the vote that evening, said that she hopes the project is a success and will be a positive addition to the town.

Avesta Housing’s most recent property in Scarborough is for affordable family housing, known as Southgate Apartments, Howes said.

“The building was placed in service in 2019 and has 38 units, eight of which are located in a historic farmhouse on site that was rehabilitated as part of the project,” he said.

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