Cumberland seeks ideas from developers for town-owned lot

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CUMBERLAND — The town is seeking proposals to develop housing on a vacant town-owned parcel of land.

Requests for qualifications from development firms and other details on the project are listed at cumberlandmaine.com. The proposals are due Wednesday, Sept. 27.

A pre-proposal conference, followed by a site walk, will be held at Town Hall, 290 Tuttle Road, at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 7.

The Town Council last month unanimously established the town’s first affordable senior housing district on the nearly 32-acre parcel, bordered by the Val Halla golf course, the Town Forest, a line of railroad tracks and Crossing Brook Road. But the property could ultimately contain housing for a variety of ages, Town Manager Bill Shane said in an interview Aug. 17.

“We’re looking to start with a multi-generational neighborhood,” he explained. “And that neighborhood would be a mix of affordable housing, plus affordable senior housing.”

The Town Council voted Monday to seek a recommendation from Cumberland’s Lands & Conservation Commission on proposed uses for the parcel.

Between 50 and 75 two-to-three-bedroom rental units with a single-car garage could be available, Shane said. The developer the town chooses will be part of a community charrette this fall, likely at one of the schools, at which residents will be invited to discuss how the development should unfold.

The town will interview developers, after which the Town Council will select one with which to move forward.

“We’re not sure if it should be all senior, or if it should be all affordable,” Shane said, adding that he hopes for a blend of generations, because “multi-generational keeps people young, and keeps people respectful of their elders.”

“I think it would be well-received, but I really need to know; we’re only guessing,” the manager added. “… I’d like to get some fresh ideas.”

A multi-generational development could include an assisted care facility, or a community center, he said.

“The issue is how much housing do we want to try to put into the queue over the next three to five years,” Shane said. “There is a pent-up demand right now; we have very limited inventory.”

Whether the town would sell the land to a developer or work out a payment in lieu of taxes agreement is also to be determined, he said. A contract zone agreement is likely, allowing the Town Council to ensure the units remain affordable – possibly in the $1,200 to $1,400 range, Shane added.

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

Cumberland could see a multi-generational neighborhood develop on 31 acres of town-owned land bordered by the Val Halla golf course, Town Forest, a line of railroad tracks and Crossing Brook Road.

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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.