SOUTH PORTLAND — A proposed expansion of Landry Village would add 44 affordable apartments for seniors to the city’s tight rental market and significantly reduce the waiting list for similar units leased by the South Portland Housing Authority.

Landry Woods is a proposed three-story building of one-bedroom units that would be rented to people age 55 and older whose household income is 50 or 60 percent of the area median income. It would be built off Westbrook Street, next to Landry Village, a circle of one-story, mid-1970s buildings that contain 50 one- and two-bedroom apartments for elderly and disabled people.

The Planning Board last week unanimously approved the housing authority’s request for a subdivision amendment and recommended that the City Council approve a conditional zone, both of which are required to build the project at 51 Landry Circle.

Landry Woods is one of three projects that the authority has in the works, including the 42-unit Thornton Heights Commons at 611 Main St., which is slated to be completed in late October. The Planning Board also has recommended a zoning change that the authority needs for a 55-unit expansion of the Betsy Ross House, a 123-unit independent living complex at 99 Preble St. Ext.

The authority currently has a waiting list of 305 people seeking one-bedroom apartments like those in the Landry Woods proposal, said Joe Scala, development officer.

While some neighbors scrutinized the proposal during last week’s Planning Board review, it won over board members and other residents.

Philomena Herrick of Fillmore Avenue said she recently moved from Portland to South Portland in search of a “better quality of life.” She raised concerns about the project’s size, traffic impacts and exposure to noise from nearby highways if trees are removed.

Tracey Fogg of Sandy Hill Road said the project would “completely demolish” home values in the neighborhood and contribute to crime and traffic problems in the Thornton Heights section of the city. Fogg and other residents questioned whether the project would have a negative impact on the city’s schools, especially with a new middle school under construction on nearby Wescott Road.

Scala said tenants of Landry Woods would be screened, fewer than half would have cars and all residents would be age 55 and older, so it would have no impact on the city’s schools.

Scala also noted that the project would sit at the bottom of the sloped property, below the existing one-story buildings of Landry Village, so it would lessen the visual impact of the three-story building.

Alexandra Carter of Froswick Avenue and Rosemarie De Angelis of Buttonwood Street voiced strong support for the project, with De Angelis saying the location is ideal and the need for affordable housing in the city is “so extensive.”

Jim Gailey, a Sandy Hill Road resident and former city manager, said he also supported the project as long as the city maintained only emergency and snow-removal access between his street and Landry Circle to prevent cut-through traffic. City officials said it would be.

If the City Council approves the conditional zone, the housing authority would seek site plan approval and submit an application for Tax Increment Financing this fall. Next year, it would apply for low-income housing tax credit financing through the Maine State Housing Authority. The hope is to start construction in the fall of 2023 and complete the project a year later.

Landry Woods would include a community room, bike storage, laundry facilities, solar electricity panels on the roof and electric vehicle charging stations. It would be built where a maintenance garage now stands.

To qualify for an apartment at Landry Woods, tenants could earn as much as 50 percent of the area median income, which is $35,000 for one person and $40,000 for two people; or as much as 60 percent of the area median income, which is $42,000 for one person and $48,000 for two people. Monthly rent would be $937 and $1,125, respectively.

The proposed conditional zone would allow greater density in Landry Village and the potential development of 27 additional apartments in the future. That phase could be built where an aging community room stands, with apartments above a new community room, Scala said.


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