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Affordable housing proposed for High Street building

News

Affordable housing proposed for High Street building

PORTLAND — A plan to create 35 units of affordable housing in a building near the corner of High and Danforth streets will be considered by the Planning Board at its workshop Nov. 23.

A partnership led by Community Housing of Maine, (CHOM), has proposed renovating 68 High Street and constructing a building next to it in what is now a vacant corner lot.

For many years, the building at 68 High Street housed offices for the University of Southern Maine, and was used for teaching and administration.

According to plans on file, the proposal for the buildings would create 35 new housing units, geared toward those making $20,000 to $45,000 a year.

The plans also call for underground parking for 11 cars below the new building, and street level parking for four cars, including two handicapped spaces.

The developers are hosting a meeting for interested neighbors on Thursday, Nov. 18, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at 68 High Street.

The building at 68 High Street was used until 1942 as a children’s hospital, and was originally an annex to the Mussey Mansion, a building that anchored the corner of High and Danforth Street until 1962, when it was demolished. As such, the current High Street building may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by architect Frederick A. Tompson and built in 1909, and is described as an important example of Colonial Revival architecture.

The project will have to be reviewed by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

In the application materials, the developer points out that the project is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, which calls for increased density of housing development in the areas of the city near schools and public transportation.

The proposed project calls for 20 one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units and three three-bedroom units.

The developers, organized into a limited partnership called Children’s Hospital Housing Partners, are seeking a waiver from the city’s strict tree planting requirements. The city’s rules call for one tree to be planted for every unit of housing built, and the developers argue it would be difficult to site 35 trees on the lot where much of the space will be taken up by the new building. The developers also requested that the city reduce the amount of the contribution that the ordinances require in lieu of planting trees.