Age-in-place housing planned for former Brunswick assisted living facility

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BRUNSWICK — Plans are in motion to renovate the former Skolfield House assisted living facility on Cumberland Street, which has been vacant since last October.

Brunswick resident Amy McLellan said May 24 that she is hoping to close on the acquisition of the property by the end of June, and begin renovating the building into a new senior home.

That plan moved a step forward Tuesday, when the Village Review Board unanimously approved a “certificate of appropriateness” for the project.

Near the end of the meeting, board member Annee Tara summed up the board’s feelings about the property: “Frankly, it couldn’t be much worse than it is right now.”

The Skolfield House was built in the 1980s on the site of a former hospital. Residents moved to the new Coastal Shores assisted living at Brunswick Landing last year.

The three-story brick rectangle “(is) kind of an odd-looking building,” contractor Dick Campbell said Tuesday night.

Campbell, who is both designing and building the project for McLellan, spent much of his presentation explaining how they planned to “warm up” the building.

He said the new senior home, which will be called “The McLellan,” would have forest green shutters and trim. Window boxes would be scattered around the brick facade.

A 16-space parking lot is behind the building, and Campbell outlined plans to cover most of the lot with a 10-bay clapboard garage.

Campbell also said there are also plans to rip out the awning on Union Street and replace it with a new entrance that matches the style of the historic Stetson Building across the street, which according to board member Brooks Stoddard, was the first apartment building constructed in Brunswick.

“I think it looks lovely,” board member Karen Topp said.

The board unanimously approved the certificate of appropriateness.

After the meeting, McLellan provided further detail about her vision for the new senior home.

The business plan, which was developed with Coastal Enterprise, calls for five apartments and 13 senior living units. McLellan said the facility will run on an “age-in-place” model, meaning residents would pay more for services as they need them.

The base price for a unit will be $1,500 a month, she said, going as high as $2,900, depending on the level of services a resident requires.

She said there would be several common amenities, including a pub and grille with a commercial kitchen, a library and piano room on the third floor, and a coffee bar and fitness room downstairs. It will also have an outdoor patio.

“I’m trying to hit the market that’s not being serviced,” she said.

McLellan is a nurse at Central Maine Medical Center, and said she will transition to running the McLellan full time. She said her desire to run an age-in-place home came from her work as a nurse.

The proposal will be reviewed by the Planning Board May 31, and McLellan said she hopes to open the facility in October.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or wwuthmann@theforecaster.net. Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

The former Skolfield House at 26 Cumberland St., Brunswick.

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Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.