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Closed Cumberland school eyed for senior housing

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Closed Cumberland school eyed for senior housing

CUMBERLAND — In their latest concept plan for a mixed-use development in the center of town, Bateman Partners is proposing that the closed Drowne Road School become a senior housing facility.

David Bateman presented his Portland company's concept for the multi-phase project Monday to the Town Council. The "Village Green" master development plan, which Bateman called "a work in progress," calls for about 50 homes – a mix of single-family homes and duplexes – to be built on the Doane Property.

Construction at the 40-acre parcel, the first phase in Bateman's plan, would last from 2011 to 2015.

If that phase is approved by the Planning Board and Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Bateman will buy the property from the town for its 2008 assessed value of $425,000.

In the second phase, the Public Works and school bus facilities northeast of the Doane property would be move. In their place would be built six single-family and 12 duplex buildings, along with a 42,900-square-foot mixed-use commercial building that would house 20 residential rental units and 14,300 square feet of retail or office space.

For the third phase, Bateman proposes a senior housing/community center for the 17,600-square-foot Drowne Road School.

As part of Bateman's vision, a four-acre town-owned parcel to the north of the Doane property would also be used for recreation.

"This property lies in basically an area that's off the beaten path, but very much could become a center and a focal point of the town, if developed appropriately," Bateman said.

The Doane Property is bordered to the west by Main Street and to the east by Drowne Road. Wyman Way, to the southwest, would serve as a major access point.

The road through the development would be a connector loop. Pedestrian walking trails are also proposed.

"One of the things we're trying to promote here is a walkable neighborhood, (with) sidewalks, (and) areas of both passive and active recreation," Bateman said.

He said on Tuesday that homes in the development could be priced between $250,000 and $380,000.

Bateman noted that public input is important in the meetings planned for the next few months as the project is further developed.

Town Manager Bill Shane has said the project is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan, which he noted calls for mixed uses in town, increased walk-ability and sustainability, and business development.

"This is property from which the town gets zero revenue right now," Council Chairwoman Shirley Storey-King said. "We own it; no one pays taxes. This could be significant taxable income for the town. So we'll look at that. We'll also balance that out with what will it cost the town for services."

Resident Bob Vail, who serves on the School Administrative District 51 board, said he would not have supported the first phase by itself, noting that with a declining population, more housing units are not necessary. But he said he favored the project as a whole.

The plan for the property will ultimately come back to the Town Council for approval.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.