Scarborough council approves construction of 72 apartments

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SCARBOROUGH — More than 70 rental apartments will be added to the town’s housing stock after unanimous Town Council approval on Wednesday.

The 11-acre project at 79 Mussey Road, proposed by Risbara Properties, will include 36 one-bedroom units priced at $1,250 per month, and 36 two-bedroom units priced at $1,450, with heat and hot water included.

While the rates are below 100 percent of the median income in the greater Portland area, they’re priced about $100 more than what is considered affordable housing, which is 80 percent of area’s median income, developer Rocky Risbara told councilors at the Nov. 16 meeting.

The so-far unnamed subdivision will have six, three-story buildings, each with six one-bedroom apartments and six two-bedroom apartments. Access will be from Mussey Road and Honan Drive.

Mussey Road extends from Payne Road to West Broadway in South Portland.

After approving the plan in a first reading in October, all councilors agreed Wednesday that the project fills a need for more multi-family, market-rate housing options in the greater Portland area.

Councilor Kate St. Clair said she hopes it will help fill a “desperate need” to provide housing for people who work in town, but can’t afford to live in Scarborough.

“What these guys are trying to accomplish is more housing for the people that live in our town,” St. Clair said, “and that area is a very up-and-coming neighborhood.”

Risbara said the units are the same size and design as the ones his company built at the 146-unit Blue Spruce Farm subdivision in Westbrook.

The spectrum of residents living in those apartments ranges from 20- and 30-year-od millennials to residents in their 80s, Risbara said.

Ben Howard, of Windsor Pines Drive, said as a resident in his 20s, the location of the new subdivision isn’t very appealing.

“As a young person, it doesn’t scream to me that I want to move in,” he said, adding that it would be expensive to take Uber to Portland.

Councilor Chris Caiazzo responded that Uber rides from his home to Portland cost about $12.

Risbara said while his team did not conduct a study about desirability, the need for rental housing in the Portland area is so great and, considering nearby access to Interstate 295 and the Maine Turnpike, he is confident the new apartments will be filled.

Councilor Shawn Babine said the “location is perfect given its proximity to the Maine Mall,” and access to public transportation.

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

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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.