Murphy and Ashley Crowell have been looking for months to find a condo they could afford and finally found a place in the new Downs. Courtesy Photo/Diana Nelson

SCARBOROUGH — The housing crisis continues as many Mainers cannot afford inflated home prices due to a lack of inventory.  

The Downs designed a master plan to offer more choices in housing types, developers say. They say their goal is to have housing with some single-family but increase opportunities for other types, including condominiums, townhomes, and apartments, to better suit various price points and lifestyles.  

According to Down’s spokeswoman Diana Nelson with Black Fly Media, 83 percent of the units at the Downs are non-single-family homes and represent an array of price points that are considered affordable and workforce housing by the state’s definition.  

“Our master plan was designed to ‘fix the mix’ of housing offered in Scarborough and create more balance,” said Nelson. “This broadens the demographics of people living down, from millennials to empty-nesters, and provides more housing choices. Conventional single-family homes are very costly for the town and schools to serve, with larger lots, long streets, and high rates of school-aged children. Other, more compact housing types (small condominiums, apartments, or townhomes) have very low rates of school-age children. They are very efficient in serving and creating a net positive revenue stream for the municipality. “Most of the units at The Downs produce net positive revenue for the Town of Scarborough each year after costs to serve are accounted for.”  

The average sale price for non-single-family home at the Downs is $306,000, and the average in Cumberland County is $366,000. The housing mix at the Downs is designed to create a variety of price points and housing options to meet the different lifestyles and demographics.

“We’ve heard from a number of business colleagues that job applicants are declining job offers because they can’t find suitable, affordable housing that meets their budgets in Cumberland County,” said Nelson. “This is a statewide issue that needs a comprehensive solution. The Downs is proud of the mixed housing it created because it meets various needs and price points and suits a variety of lifestyles. Fifty-seven percent of all units here meet the state’s definition of workforce housing, and we’re very proud to be building housing that meets our community’s needs at an affordable price point.”  


Jennifer Polli is a single mom to a Scarborough third-grader. She had been looking for a home for seven months before finding something in Scarborough so that her daughter could remain in the school district. She and her husband were recently divorced, and they sold their single-family home on three acres. After a long search, Jennifer moved into a townhome in The Downs. She paid $355,000, which is considered ‘affordable’ by the state’s definition. 

“I went in the first phase at the Scarborough Downs, so I own my condo/cottage duplex and bought it in September 2019,” said Polli. “It took me about seven months to find it. Even though it was not in this market right now, it was still hard to find something affordable. I was finding older homes or condos with no amenities, and they were still out of my price range for something I would have to settle for, and I did not want to settle, so I kept looking. I put a bid on a couple of homes and did get out bid even at that time.”  

Murphy and Ashley Crowell are a young couple with a baby on the way. They are a hard-working, dual-income household that is just starting. They looked for months before finding a condominium they could afford in the Cumberland and York county areas before finding a place in the Downs. They paid $264,000 and landed in The Downs.  

“We kind of knew we wanted to be in the Downs, so we were fortunate enough that when we went to go look, there was still a condo available for us to purchase,” said Ashley Crowell. “We had decided that we wanted to buy something in October of 2020, and we had signed and put down a deposit; they hadn’t started building it, and we didn’t close until May 2021.”  

“We were very lucky that the Downs had a lot of housing opportunities that were relatively affordable with how things are these days,” said Murphy Crowell. “We didn’t have a lot of time to make our decision. We had to move quickly because if we didn’t, it would be gone.”  

Polli and the Crowell’s said that the sense of community and belonging is enormous among the Downs residents. Both families enjoy what the Downs has to offer currently and look forward to the progression of the Town Center.  

The Downs is currently working to build non-single-family and affordable and workforce housing. It will be home to Maines’s first affordable housing complex for people with disabilities. The Downs developers are currently negotiating to make this housing complex a reality in the Town Center.  

“The Downs is setting an example to follow, and the Town of Scarborough should be commended for putting the right measures in place to allow us to do it,” Nelson said. “The Downs would like to continue building this type of modern, mixed housing, but we need a specialized allowance to do so from the Town Council. Since The Downs is designed as a ‘high-growth’ area, meaning that the Town of Scarborough would like to see future growth happen at our project versus spread out across Scarborough. We hope to continue building the types of housing that will solve Cumberland County’s critical need for housing.” 

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