Apartment rentals going fast at former Bath school

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BATH — People interested in living at Huse School Apartments – due to open next month at the site of the former E.L. Huse Memorial School – will want to act quickly.

The Portland-based Szanton Co., which is developing the project, had security deposits in hand June 28 for 41 of the complex’s 59 units, President Nathan Szanton said in an interview.

“Considering we’re a month away from completing construction, that’s extraordinary,” Szanton said, adding that it normally takes six to eight months after construction is completed to lease all the units in a building that size.

“What this tells us is that there’s an enormous pent-up demand for high-quality, new rental housing in Bath at a price attainable by most residents of Bath and its environs,” he added.

While there is always some uncertainty in how well housing units will do, Bath Housing’s 2014 study of the city’s housing state “pointed to an enormous need,” the developer said. “And then we did our own market study as well, with a market study analyst, that also pointed to a huge need.”

The demand “exceeds even what we thought was out there,” Szanton said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with speakers, self tours of the building, and food and drinks, will be held at 39 Andrews Road from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, July 27.

Szanton acquired the building from the city in August 2015. Sixteen of the 59 apartments will be rented at market rate while the remaining 43 will be reserved for households that earn at or below 50 or 60 percent of the area’s median income.

Rents include heat, hot water, off-street parking and Wi-Fi, and the complex also offers an elevator, community room, fitness center, indoor bicycle storage, and individual storage units.

A single occupant earning less than $25,000 a year can rent a one-bedroom apartment for $621 a month. Rent for the same unit, for a person earning less than $30,000, could be $775; someone earning more than $30,000 would pay $995.

The project has 48 one-bedroom units, six two-bedroom apartments, and five efficiency units. Twenty of the apartments are in the school’s original, 75-year-old building; 11 are in a wing added in 1949, and 28 are in a new wing.

The tenants comes from all walks of life, according to Szanton. Some, too, are homeowners who are downsizing and looking to unload the burden of caring for a single-family home.

The demand prompted Szanton to submit another redevelopment proposal, for the vacant former YMCA lot at 26 Summer St.

Szanton Co. has partnered with the Bath Housing organization to present one proposal, and the Newheight Group of Portland is presenting the other, in conjunction with Portland-based Community Housing of Maine.

Szanton’s 42-49 units would offer mixed income housing, with monthly rents potentially ranging between $670 for a one-bedroom apartment at 50 percent of the area median income, to $1,050 for a two-bedroom market rate apartment.

NewHeight Group has proposing 20 to 30 residential condominiums that would be between approximately 700 to 1,200 square feet, and priced between around $250,000 to more than $400,000, with most units at the lower end of the range.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A ribbon cutting for Huse School Apartments, a 59-unit complex offering mixed income housing, will be held at 39 Andrews Road in Bath on Thursday, July 27. The apartments keep the feel of Huse’s original use, as reflected in the chalk board in this photo.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.