Rehab complete at affordable housing on Park Street in Portland

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PORTLAND — Mike Lyne stood in the basement of Rosa True School on Monday, admiring the new boilers.

“This is the stuff I love,” he said, as he described the boost in efficiency to 90 percent in the 10-unit affordable housing development at 140 Park St.

On Tuesday, Lyne, the chief operating officer for Developers Collaborative, was able to celebrate more as the company publicly unveiled the renovated and expanded historic property it leases from the city.

“This could be the oldest rehab I have done,” Developers Collaborative principal Kevin Bunker said Monday.

Built in 1844, Rosa True School was once the city’s longest-serving elementary school. Named for a former teacher and principal, it closed in 1972, and was leased by the city for a housing development in 1992.

The lease was originally held by Portland West, which later became LearningWorks. In 2015, Developers Collaborative signed a 90-year lease, while adding two, two-bedroom units to the eight, three-bedroom units.

The $1 annual lease requires Developers Collaborative to pay utilities and applicable property taxes while maintaining rents at 60 percent or below the area median income. Those annual incomes now range from $32,280 for an individual to $46,080 for a family of four, according to the Maine State Housing Authority.

The building will be managed by Avesta Housing, Bunker said, and rents are $990 per month for a two-bedroom unit and $1,139 for a three-bedroom unit. Median rents in Portland are now $1,183 per month.

The city has also contributed to the renovation and expansion with a 2015, 30-year loan of $149,500 that includes $118,500 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds passed on through the Cumberland County HOME Consortium.

The city also assumed the remaining $31,000 in debt on the $83,000 LearningWorks mortgage that helped fund the redevelopment into eight, three-bedroom housing units.

Because Rosa True is on the National Register of Historic Places, Bunker said Developers Collaborative was also eligible to use state and federal tax credits to finance repairs.

The work in the basement to create new housing and refurbish the heating and mechanical systems was extensive, but Bunker and Lyne said upstairs units were repaired and renovated as needed.

One first-floor unit was renovated to comply with American With Disabilities Act standards, although the current tenants do not require such access, Bunker said.

Lyne said more than half of the exterior brick was repointed, while existing common areas and apartments got new tiles, cabinets, bathroom fixtures or appliances.

Basement chimney repairs required hauling away carasses of gulls which had plummeted down the uncapped chimney.

“It was like a seagull trap,” Lyne said.

Rosa True was the first property Developers Collaborative essentially took over from LearningWorks. The company will also use HOME funds to renovate and repair St. Dominic’s Apartments at 42 Gray St.

Bunker also redeveloped the former Nathan Clifford School, at 180 Falmouth St., into market rate apartments while maintaining a public neighborhood park for the city.

Mary Davis, who directs the city division of Housing and Community Development, said Monday the new lease still assures that the city remains in control of future uses of the land and building.

“It is a great way to keep the historic character of the building with a developer who has experience managing it,” she said. “It is a good project for all parties that were involved.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Developers Collaborative principal Kevin Bunker said Monday his renovation of the former Rosa True School, now a 10-unit apartment building, “could be the oldest rehab I have done.”

Kevin Bunker and Mike Lyne of Developers Collaborative look over one of two new two-bedroom units in the former Rosa True School in Portland on Monday.

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