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Another milestone for former Adams School property on Portland's Munjoy Hill

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Another milestone for former Adams School property on Portland's Munjoy Hill

PORTLAND — City officials and neighborhood residents fondly recalled the Marada Adams Elementary School, but said they look forward to its replacement during a Sept. 13 ceremony on Munjoy Hill.

The ceremony marked the groundbreaking for a complex of 16 affordable condominiums that will be built on the site of the now-demolished school, bordered by Moody, Munjoy, Vesper and Wilson streets. When complete in May, the Adams School Condominiums also will include a playground and park.

Mayor Michael Brennan, who once worked as a substitute teacher at the school, praised the project for "creating opportunities for families to grow up on Munjoy Hill," as he did.

"We need to have a community that is socially and economically diverse, and we can't do that without housing that is affordable across the spectrum," the mayor said.

The two- and three-bedroom townhouses will be priced between $225,00 and $275,000. Households earning no more than 120 percent of the area's median income will be eligible to buy the units. That limit equals $70,400 for a two-person household, and $95,050 for a family of five.

City Councilor Kevin Donoghue, who lives on nearby Beckett Street, called the project "an ultimate public good."

"This is the type of housing that will allow families to move to the Hill, and stay on the Hill," Donoghue said.

He said that the project also will "reconnect" the neighborhood by creating an esplanade between O'Brion and Moody streets and restoring a playground to the property.

In response to a poster campaign by neighborhood children and the demands of parents, that playground will include a refurbished set of monkey bars from the original school grounds.

"We heard (the parents and children)," said Seth Parker, a development officer with Avesta Housing, the nonprofit agency building the complex. "This is a vibrant, active neighborhood, and the neighbors have been very involved."

Costs of the project are expected to reach $5.5 million. It already has received $1.71 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, and another $200,000 in "brownfield" grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Built in 1958, the Adams School was named after Marada Adams, who taught public school for  72 years – including 50 years of teaching on Munjoy Hill, according to Ethan Boxer-Macomber, Avesta's director of acquisitions and assets.

Previously, the property had been home to a grenade factory and a trolley garage.

The school was closed in 2006, when the East End Community School opened on North Street. Like many decommissioned schools, the Adams property was well-suited for housing, Boxer-Macomber said. A committee of neighborhood residents was formed by the city to explore new uses for the site.

Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization President Andrea Myhaver said she is optimistic about the new use, and that it is in keeping with the neighborhood.

"I went to the Adams School," she said. "One thing that hasn't changed is the spirit of this place."

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.