High-end rentals planned for Haigis Parkway in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors gave preliminary approval Wednesday night to what will be the largest residential development ever on Haigis Parkway.

Devine Capital is proposing what the company calls 288 “highly amenitized luxury” apartments – to be known as the Residences at Gateway Commons – to the Route 1 end of Haigis, on approximately 33 acres of undeveloped land.

The council voted 6-1 in the first reading, with Councilor Peter Hayes opposed. Hayes said timing of the discussion was problematic and suggested the council delay until after the holidays to allow more opportunity for public input.

“I’m pretty sure none of our constituents have any idea what we’re talking about,” he said. “I’m concerned that we’re doing this right before Christmas.”

The developers have applied for a contract zone, in part to allow greater density than allowed in the area.

Twelve buildings with a total of nearly 300 units would be built, along with a movie theater, gym, outdoor pool, gaming centers, walking trails and a dog park, developer Ben Devine told councilors Wednesday.

The proposal comes on the heels of a workshop earlier this month, when town staff and elected officials discussed how to manage nearly 800 residential units proposed or approved for construction across Scarborough.

Staff noted at the workshop that the town has been promoting development on Haigis Parkway for years. Karen Martin, president of the Scarborough Economic Development Corp., said adding multi-family housing could be the catalyst for more commercial and residential development.

The Residences at Gateway Commons would be a mix of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, ranging in price from $1,400 to $2,200 per month. The average annual income of residents is expected to be between $80,000 and $100,000.

The project would meet a growing demand, especially among millennials, for long-term rentals. “They’re lifestyle renters; they’re making a conscious decision to rent rather than buy,” Devine told councilors.

But Ben Howard, of Windsor Pines Drive, said he is “wary” of the idea that high-cost housing will appeal to millennials.

As a millennial, Howard said he didn’t know any adults in their 20s who make between $80,000 and $100,000.

The word millennial is “almost a buzzword to the older generation,” Howard said. “To me, that area doesn’t scream ‘millennial.'”

The project is expected to take about two years to complete, and is estimated to generate between $475,000 and $630,000 in annual revenue for the town, developers told councilors.

Councilors, who were mostly in favor of the project, agreed that while the town also needs more affordable housing, there are other markets to reach, too.

“While I’m cognizant of the need for workforce housing, I don’t think every project can accommodate every need all the time,” Councilor Chris Caiazzo said. “We need to acknowledge” that there is a high-end rent audience to be met.

“Let’s not forget, this is development at Haigis; we’ve been talking about this for 20 years,” he said.

Councilor Kate St. Clair agreed.

“I think this is a project that would really do well in Scarborough,” she said. “I think there’s a need for it.”

The proposal must be vetted by the Planning Board before it returns to the council for final approval. The earliest that is expected to happen is late January.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.

Developers presented pictures of a residential development in East Lyme, Connecticut as an example of what the Residences at Gateway Commons – a proposal for 288 units near the intersection of Route 1 and Haigis Parkway – would look like.

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.