2 South Portland housing projects get final OKs

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Two large-scale housing projects received approval Wednesday from the Planning Board.

One project, proposed by the South Portland Housing Authority, will add more than 40 affordable units at 611 Main St. in Thornton Heights, on the site of the former St. John the Evangelist Church.

The second, at 450 Clark’s Pond Parkway, will create more than 250 market-rate apartments near the Maine Mall.

The housing authority proposal had to overcome neighborhood opposition since plans were revealed late last year. It required a zoning change, and several  hearings with the City Council and Planning Board before final approval was granted.

Residents’ concerns centered on traffic and light pollution from the project, which is bounded by Main Street, Aspen Avenue and Thirlmere Avenue. The nearly 2-acre site includes a parish house and a school building, which have been vacant for four years.

The design of the project was altered over the course of several meetings with neighbors.

Neighborhood resident Heather Bridges on Wednesday said at first she was not in favor of the project, but now feels it will be a great addition.

City councilors previously approved a zoning change for the proposed $9 million project. The rear acre of the property had to be rezoned because it was in a Residential A zone, while the rest of the parcel was in the Main Street Community Commercial zone.

A 42-unit building and three single-family homes are part of the proposal. Thirty three of the apartments will be listed at specifically defined affordable rates for people earning no more than 60 percent of the median income in the city. The remaining units will be rented based on market demand. Parking includes space for 72 cars, although the city only requires 45.

To qualify for affordable housing, a single person would be allowed to make no more than $28,000 per year, and a family of four would have an annual income limit of $41,000.

Rents would range from $770 per month for a one-bedroom apartment to $1,081 for a three-bedroom unit, More said.

The housing authority is under contract to purchase the property from Cafua Management for $1.2 million.

Cafua is the Methuen, Massachusetts-based company that bought the property in 2013, with the aim of building a drive-through Dunkin’ Donuts. That proposal was abandoned after it provoked vigorous opposition from neighbors opposed to the scale of the project.

More said the housing authority will now apply for a federal low-income housing tax credit to help fund the project. Whether funding is approved will be known in December. Construction could begin as early as fall 2019, with completion expected a year later.

Clark’s Pond

The Clark’s Pond Parkway project is is owned by Vincent Maietta, who plans to build 212 two-bedroom units and 44 one-bedroom units in four, six-story buildings.

The project is expected to cost between $20 million and $25 million, according to Maietta.

The buildings are proposed to be 60 feet tall, which is below the standard of 86 feet. Two access drives would be constructed from Clark’s Pond Parkway to parking areas containing 391 spaces.

A traffic study conducted by Sebago Technics showed the complex will produce 140 trips in the morning and 171 trips in the evening at peak hours.

Maietta has also agreed to connect the sidewalk from the parkway to John Roberts Road.

He said he expects monthly rents will range from $1,100-$1,500, and noted the project is privately funded and not subsidized.

Maietta said that, based on information provided at affordable housing committee meetings he attended, rent is affordable if it consumes no more than 30 percent of a family’s income.

Using that guideline and the city’s median household income – $56,000, according to Census data – monthly rent of $1,100 is affordable, he said.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3611 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka.

The former church at 611 Main St. in South Portland will be replaced by affordable housing.

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