Scarborough affordable housing proposal gets more friendly to families

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SCARBOROUGH — Plans to convert the historic Southgate Farmhouse into an affordable housing project have been reconfigured to include more multi-family units.

The change is an attempt to qualify for state tax credits necessary for the project’s completion.

Last May, Portland-based Avesta Housing submitted a proposal to convert the early 19th-century farmhouse and two adjacent barns at 577 Route 1 into a 50-unit residential complex, most of which were intended to be single units.

The building is divided into seven apartments. The original plan for the town’s first affordable housing project called for eight studio apartments, 37 one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom apartments.

However, during the scoring process conducted last winter, Avesta fell eight points short of receiving Maine State Housing low-income tax credits needed to fund the project. It was subsequently placed seventh on the waiting list for funding.

The revised project, presented to town councilors Wednesday by Seth Parker, Avesta director of real estate development, includes 38 units: four studio apartments, 14 one-bedroom units, 12 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units.

This year, Maine Housing is trying to provide incentives for construction of more family-sized units, Parker told the Town Council, and including more of those in the proposal will increase the chances of funding for the project.

Other than rearranging the types of units, everything else remains the same, Parker said, including the site plan and footprint of the new building.

According to Parker, a three-bedroom apartment would rent for between $800 and $1,200; for a two-bedroom, the cost would be $700-$1,000; rent for a one-bedroom would be $580-$870, and an efficiency studio unit would be $540-$810.

Because the number of multi-family units will increase, it is expected that more children will likely live in the project. Parker said Avesta estimates, judging from the number of units and the number of families that live in other Avesta buildings, nearly 25 children could reside at the new complex.

Councilors said Wednesday night they continue to fully support the project.

“Do we know what the town actually needs for housing? What’s the biggest demand?” Councilor Peter Hayes asked.

“From our perspective, you can’t build enough affordable housing,” Parker said.

The Maine Housing project application deadline is in late October, and Avesta expects to hear the results by the end of the year, Parker said. If the project is successfully funded, construction will begin next summer, and the new apartments will be ready for leasing by the summer of 2018.  

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

Avesta Housing has revised its plan to convert the historic Southgate Farmhouse in Scarborough into affordable housing. The updated plan, presented to Town Councilors Wednesday night, July 13, includes more units to accommodate families.

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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.