Affordable housing could grow on High Street lawn in Portland

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PORTLAND — An iron-gated lawn at the corner of Danforth and High streets may become an affordable housing development if the city grants a zoning change for the property.

The property, including a three-story brick building, is owned by the University of Southern Maine. It is being eyed by Community Housing of Maine, which has an option to purchase the approximately half-acre parcel, as a location for 35 affordable housing units.

Plans submitted to the city Planning Department call for renovation of the existing 100-year-old building, which was originally a children’s hospital and is currently offices and classroom space for USM. An addition of equal size would be built on the vacant corner lawn.

Community Housing is asking for a zoning change to allow greater density, so it can have 35 units instead of the 20 now allowed.

According to the application there would be 15 parking spots, most built under the new addition. The development would include 20 one-bedroom apartments, 12 two-bedroom units and 3 three-bedroom apartments.

The estimated cost of the project is $8.5 million and the applicant has received initial approval to take advantage of federal historic tax credits.

Community Housing of Maine is a Portland-based nonprofit group that has developed more than 500 units of affordable housing in the last seven years, according to its website.

A Planning Board workshop to discuss the project is scheduled for Tuesday, July 27, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 209 at City Hall.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net

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