Bath school sale to housing developer heads to City Council

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BATH — The City Council next month is expected to consider the sale of the John E.L. Huse Memorial School to a Portland developer for reuse as mixed-income rental housing.

The Szanton Co., which develops mixed-income housing, presented its plan to the community and heard input at a Jan. 15 meeting at the Donald Small School Auditorium.

Developer Nathan Szanton said he plans to present a purchase proposal to the council on Feb. 4.

The City Council voted last April to sell the 39 Andrews Road building – occupied by the Regional School Unit 1 central office until 2010 – for senior assisted living. But that deal fell through, and the property is still on the market for $175,000.

“The timing didn’t work out for them or for us,” City Planner Andrew Deci said earlier this month.

Szanton wants to “renovate the Huse School to its original architecture, with new windows and energy-efficient construction,” according to a flier the company released prior to the meeting.

The building, built in 1941 with an addition in 1949, has more than 33,000 square feet of space. It has always been owned by the city.

Szanton’s project would have 54 mostly one-bedroom apartments, with 32 in the existing structure and 22 in a new northeast wing.

About 25 percent of the units would be rented at market rate, while the rest would be income-restricted. A household of two earning up to $28,550 annually would be able to rent a one-bedroom unit at $669 a month, including heat and hot water, according to the company, which noted the housing would not be a Section 8 project.

Roughly 70 people attended the forum, Nathan Szanton said. Concerns were expressed about issues like traffic patterns, whether tenant parking would spill over into the neighborhood, and the type of renters who would be living in the building.

“I just talked to them about our very, very robust screening practices … to weed out people who would be disrespectful of other people’s property” and the peace and quiet of neighbors, Szanton said. “… That really, I think, made people feel a lot better.”

The developer’s next step is to “figure out the boundaries of the parcel that we want to propose to the city, because we’re going to be going before the City Council on Feb. 4 with a proposal to purchase the site … and we need to be able to tell them exactly what we’re proposing to purchase,” Szanton said.

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

Sidebar Elements


The John E.L. Huse Memorial School in Bath would become a mixed-income rental project if the city agrees to sell the property to the Portland-based Szanton Co.

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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.