Brunswick firm plans senior housing for former Navy hotel

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BRUNSWICK — Local elder-care provider Rousseau Enterprises intends to convert the former U.S. Navy hotel at Brunswick Landing into a 122-apartment building. 

The project, Coastal Landing Apartments, was approved by a Sept. 25 Brunswick Planning Department staff review. The company hopes to break ground on the estimated $12 million retrofit, which includes a 6,600-square-foot expansion, in November.

“I think we can fill a niche here in the greater Brunswick area,” Mitchell Rousseau, the company’s president, said. “It will compliment our other facilities in town.”

According to plans submitted to the town, Rousseau plans to divide the 68,600-square-foot hotel on Neptune Drive into 82 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments available for lease. Forty rooms will be reserved for current occupants of the Skolfield House assisted living facility on Columbia Street, who will be moved to Brunswick Landing.

The apartments will be intended for elderly independent living, but will give tenants options for meals and other services, and offer an easy transition to the company’s other assisted and nursing care facilities, Rousseau said.

The company has not determined what will do with the Skolfield House after its clients have moved out, Rousseau added. The company also owns Horizons Living and Rehab Center and Dionne Commons on Maurice Drive in Brunswick.

Coastal Landing will be staffed 24 hours a day by 15-20 licensed care providers, and the renovated building will include amenities like a sauna, gym, theater, beauty parlor and community garden, Rousseau said.

The expansion will provide room for a new kitchen and dining areas.

The project is expected to cost approximately $12 million, according to Brunswick-based engineering firm Sitelines PA, which filed a development review application with the town.

Rousseau said his company has been considering the property for the last year and has conducted feasibility and market surveys.

“The building was there and it just needed a purpose,” he said.

“The geographic location is nice,” Rousseau added. “You’re close to Mid Coast Hospital, you’re close to all the amenities in Cook’s Corner. Brunswick Landing is coming alive and I think that whole area will become kind of a community within a community.”

Rousseau Enterprises bought the property in August from Affordable Midcoast Housing, a company owned by Auburn-based developer George Schott, using its subsidiary, 142 Neptune Drive LLC, named after the property’s address. 

Schott, who also owns hundreds of units of former Navy housing, signed a $3.4 million deal to buy the hotel from the Midcoast Regional Development Authority in 2012. 

As part of the same deal, Schott bought 190 units of nearby “bachelor” housing for $2.6 million. 

Constructed in 2004, the hotel was originally built to house transient sailors. The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority intended to redevelop the building as a hotel and conference center.

The agency abandoned that plan after its research showed there was not enough demand to make a hotel at Brunswick Landing viable, and that it could hurt other lodging businesses in the area. 

In an email Wednesday, MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said that at the time, a senior housing complex was suggested as an alternative use. 

Rousseau’s project is a good fit for the building and in line with MRRA’s redevelopment plan, Levesque said. 

When Schott bought the properties, he said he intended to lease them to the Navy to house personnel working at Bath Iron Works.

As part of the deal, Schott agreed to pay MRRA 10 percent of the gross purchase price above $5 million if the building sold within 10 years. 

According to Levesque, MRRA received $75,000 from Shott’s sale of the property. Based on the 10 percent calculation, that would make Rousseau’s possible purchase price for the hotel $5.75 million. 

Despite the scale of the project, it was not vetted by the Planning Board because it falls within a special “initial non-military re-occupancy of a building” section of the town’s zoning ordinance.

The provision allows developers to side-step a major development review as long as the property involved is fulfilling the purpose it was built for, Planning Director Anna Breinich said.

In this case, since Rousseau Enterprises is proposing a residential use for a previously residential building, it only needed Planning Board approval if it added more than 10,000 square feet of impervious surface, she said.

Rousseau said the company hopes to have the renovations complete and ready to lease by early August 2015.

Current residents of the Skolfield House and their families have been told about the plans and are looking forward to moving to an expanded facility with private rooms, an upgrade from their current “dormitory-style” accommodations, Rousseau said.

“The living space will be a 100 percent improvement,” Rousseau said. “They can’t wait for it to open.”

Peter L. McGuire can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or pmcguire@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter @mcguiremidcoast.

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Rousseau Enterprises of Brunswick plans to convert the former U.S. Navy hotel at Brunswick Landing into a senior housing complex in an approximately $12 million project.

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