The Biddeford City Council recently approved a tax increment financing district and credit enhancement for a project that would bring 39 units of affordable housing to downtown Biddeford. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD – Housing costs in Biddeford and around the region may be out of reach of some families, but a project currently in the approval process could help make a dent in the demand for lower income housing once funding is complete and the 39-unit structure is built.

Adams Point LP recently gained the Biddeford City Council’s unanimous approval of a Tax Increment Financing District and a Credit Enhancement Agreement that returns 75 percent of the increased assessed value of the property back to the developer for 30 years.

The Biddeford Planning Board was to host a public hearing on a contract zone for the proposal on Wednesday, Sept. 1, after the Courier’s print deadline.

The 39-unit project, called Adams Point, would be located  on  1.54 vacant acres at the far end of Adams Street – the location of the former St. Joseph’s Convent. In all, there would be 13 one-bedroom units; 17 two-bedroom units; eight three-bedroom units and one four-bedroom unit. Tenants would have incomes in the range of 30 percent to 60 percent of area median income.

The project is developed by Southern Maine Affordable Housing and Adams Point LP.

City Manager James Bennett told the Biddeford City Council that the CEA and TIF were necessary for the project to receive low-income tax credits through Maine Housing.

“If a community is not willing to do a 30-year 75 percent (CEA) I can almost agree it won’t happen, it’s so competitive,” said Bennett.

Councilor Marc Lessard said he believes the city has done a “pretty good job” of focusing on affordable housing over the last couple of months – and that the proposed Adams Point project is an example. “I definitely support this,” he said.

Councilor Michael Ready noted many of the units in the proposed development are family apartments.

“At the very least, people that are now on the edge of being priced out of town will be able to stay in town,” said Ready. “This is the first step, the first time we’ve made this sort of a dent. This is really a huge need we’re finally beginning to address.”

The height allowed in the district is three stories and 35 feet. Given the lot’s size and topography, the project would be five stories and 60 feet high, one reason why a contract zone is being sought. Guy Gagnon of Southern Maine Affordable Housing pointed out in a spring meeting that some nearby properties, including Parish Place at 41 Birch St. is 50 to 60 feet tall, and Ledgewood Apartments on Graham Street is seven stories and 60 to 70 feet in height.

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