Proposal would add affordable housing to Portland's Bayside neighborhood

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PORTLAND — Additional affordable housing may be coming to the Bayside neighborhood.

Avesta Housing is seeking approveal for the second phase of Pearl Place, near the corner of Pearl and Lancaster streets.

The project, which was scheduled for a Planning Board workshop Tuesday, Nov. 9, would add a total of 54 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for income-eligible residents.

Avesta Development Officer Ethan Boxer-Macomber said demand for affordable housing in Bayside is high.

When the original 60 units at Pearl Place opened in 2008, Boxer-Macomber said, the apartments were filled within a month. There are now seven prospective tenants waiting for every unit in the building.

“Demand is very, very high,” he said.

If planning approvals go smoothly, Avesta could break ground in January and finish at least one of the new buildings by December 2011, Boxer-Macomber said.

Avesta has already secured funding for a 30-unit building, which would be built at the lower end of the Pearl Street block. It is still seeking funding for the remaining 24 units.

Boxer-Macomber said the $6.5 million in costs for the 30 units is being funded through a combination of private financing, a $1.65 million state subsidy and an estimated $4.5 million in tax credits from the Maine State Housing Authority.

In addition to tapping the same funding sources for the remaining 24 units, Boxer-Macomber said Avesta is seeking $500,000 through the city’s HOME program, which is funded by federal grants.

The project will contain a variety of green elements, including a green roof, rain garden, LED lights on timers, solar water heaters and energy-efficient mechanical systems.

If approved for city funding, the 24-unit building would have to obtain a silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Last year, the City Council adopted an ordinance requiring LEED certification for projects that receive at least $250,000 in city funds.

“We’re fully designing to those standards,” Boxer-Macomber said.

Avesta is scheduled to meet with the city’s Housing Committee to discuss the fund on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

When finished, Boxer-Macomber said the project should go a long way toward helping revitalize the Bayside neighborhood, as well as reducing vehicle traffic, since only 65 percent of residents use a vehicle due to the development’s proximity to downtown.

“It’s really going to help that neighborhood turn the corner,” he said.

Randy Billings may be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net.

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Avesta Housing is proposing 54 affordable housing units in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood that would complete the buildout of Pearl Place, which opened in 2008.

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