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Bowdoin College gets initial OK for 3-story office building in Brunswick

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Bowdoin College gets initial OK for 3-story office building in Brunswick

BRUNSWICK — The Planning Board on Tuesday night unanimously approved Bowdoin College's sketch plan for a 3,440-square-foot, three-story administrative building at the corner of Maine and Noble streets.

The $2.4 million building still requires final at a future board meeting before the existing building at 216 Maine St. can be demolished to make way for the new offices. Construction could begin in April and end by November.

In the meantime, however, the college can begin its plan to convert a two-story, 9,000-square-foot former retirement home at 52 Harpswell Road into a 65-student, chem-free resident hall after the board approved the final plan for that project.

The resident hall on Harpswell Road will be ready for occupation by August, said S. Catherine Longley, the college treasurer and senior vice president for finance and administration. The college has been working with neighbors of the property to address any concerns they might have, she added.

Those concerns were mostly aired last April, when the Town Council amended its zoning ordinance, at Bowdoin's request, to allow residence halls in the town's Mixed Use 3 Zone, where the Harpswell Road building is located.

On Tuesday night, it appeared that most, if not all, concerns were resolved after only one resident, Michael Kolster, a Bowdoin professor, expressed concerns about lighting from the resident hall parking lot. His concern was eased after a planner for the college clarified that no extra lights will be installed.

Bowdoin's administrative building, meanwhile, would be a Federalist-style building, according to Longley. It would provide space for about 30 employees from the college's human resources, controller and financial aid departments.

The controller and financial aid departments were previously in the former McLellan Building at 85 Union St., home of the new Town Hall, which will continue to have Bowdoin offices on its third floor. The two departments now operate on the second floor of Brunswick Station at 16 Station Ave., which previously housed the town's Council Chambers and Bowdoin's Dance Department.

The Dance Department is now at Bowdoin's new Edwards Center for Arts and Dance, which was formerly Longfellow Elementary School. It was conveyed from the town in 2011 in exchange for the 85 Union St. building.

Longley said that parking spaces on the Maine Street side of the lot will be eliminated. She added that most employees will use parking at the former McLellan Building.

The building at 216 Maine St., which has housed a travel agency and a flower shop, was purchased by Bowdoin in 2011.

Planning Board Chairman Charlie Frizzle said the proposed building is a permitted use and meets the "most basic dimensional requirements" of the town's zoning ordinance.

However, that didn't satisfy Ben Swan, of Page Street, the only resident who spoke during a public comment period.

"It looks way too big," Swan said. "It looks like it dwarfs the Chamberlain (Museum) next to it. It looks too big for what it is."

Dylan Martin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or dmartin@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DylanLJMartin.