A big apartment complex neighboring Rock Row and aimed at reducing the housing shortage in Westbrook could begin construction as early as next year, but an entrance to the complex could be a sticking point.

Westbrook Development Corp. is partnering with J.B. Brown & Sons of Portland to propose 500 apartment units on 58 acres off Westbrook Arterial at its intersection with Larrabee Road.

The corporation, a development arm of Westbrook Housing Authority, would construct 100 affordable apartments at the site while Brown & Sons would build and own 400 market rate units, according to Tyler Norod, Westbrook Development Corp.’s development director.

The project is in the initial planning stages.

“We’re pretty excited. Housing is a big need,” Vincent Veroneau, president and CEO of Brown & Sons, said Tuesday.

The housing market “is in a crisis,” Norod said.


“We desperately need more housing at a variety of price points to help ease demand for our community members,” Norod said. “This site will go a long way to ease that burden.”

Brown & Sons owns, manages and leases dozens of commercial, retail and residential properties in greater Portland, including an office building on Saunders Way in Westbrook and the Maine Today Media building at 295 Gannett Drive in South Portland that houses the operations of the Portland Press Herald, Maine Sunday Telegram, The Forecaster papers and American Journal.

The development site is on the opposite side of Westbrook Arterial from Rock Row. Access to it from the arterial could be an issue with the city.

Entrance options are off Stroudwater Street in the area of the middle school or off the arterial through an 8-acre parcel owned by Westbrook Development Corp. That parcel is adjacent to the Brown & Sons property, now mostly an open field formerly owned by the Snyder family of Stroudwater Street.

Brown & Sons prefers an entry to the complex from the arterial, but Veroneau said city staff have cited potential pedestrian safety issues there, possibly because of the potential for apartment residents to walk to Rock Row. He said those concerns could be satisfactorily addressed.

Early plans call for walking and bike paths that Chris LaRoche, housing authority executive director, said would connect to Stroudwater Street across from the middle school. LaRoche said their plan, with access from the arterial, would keep additional traffic off heavily traveled Stroudwater Street.


The affordable housing component would be built in phases over a number of years, Norod said. Between 150 and 200 of the market rate apartments would be built initially, according to Veroneau.

Norod emphasized plans are “very preliminary,” architectural renderings are unavailable, and they haven’t filed the project with the Westbrook Planning Board. Veroneau expects to submit a proposal to the city in “a couple months,” and Norod said he hopes construction could begin in 2024.

The site is one of “the best residential locations left in Southern Maine,” Norod said. It is near Metro bus lines, jobs, Maine Turnpike Exit 47 and the Portland Trails system. The site is about a mile from Hannaford and shopping in downtown Westbrook.

A neighbor of the proposed development, Simon Snyder, said he hopes it will incorporate open space near his house.

“Nostalgically, we will miss having this significant open space surrounding our family home. We would hope that the Stroudwater Street end of the site would still provide the feel of open space so that our home maintains some semi-rural character,” Snyder said.

Mayor Michael Foley, noting that the city has been “working diligently to support the development of quality, safe and affordable housing in our community,” said he and other city officials look forward to the formal review process for the project, which will include public participation.

“We are excited for the potential infusion of housing units in the community to support the current housing shortage,” Foley said.

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