Scarborough houses give new life before demolition

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SCARBOROUGH — Three unoccupied houses along Route 1 will be razed next month in preparation for the construction of a new public safety building.

But before they disappear, materials in the homes are being culled to benefit the town, organizations and other homes.

The buildings – two one-story structures and a two-story, robin’s-egg blue house – have been town-owned since 2006 and are just south of the Municipal Building.

The town encouraged people to come forward to move the buildings, but there were no offers, Town Manager Thomas Hall said. 

With demolition slated for September, five Habitat for Humanity volunteers removed nonstructural elements such as light fixtures, cabinets and doors to sell at the ReStore in Portland. 

Habitat ReStores are home improvement stores and donation centers that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, building materials and other items to the public at discounted prices. 

ReStore manager Andrew Smith said it takes a volunteer crew about a day to go through each house and remove the materials desired. As she worked to remove a door from its frame, volunteer Kathi O’Grady said she’s learned she likes taking things apart.

The three homes produced items valued at $3,000-$4,000, Smith said. He said the circa-1930s doors in one home are worth about $200 each, but will sell for about $25 at the ReStore.

“It’s great to have for the organization, it augments our sales,” Smith said. Profits from the ReStore fund the work of Habitat for Humanity throughout greater Portland.  

Smith said it is also important to consider the value and energy that goes into crafting a home piece such as a cabinet, and also the environmental impact of demolition and reconstruction. He said half of the materials that end up in landfills come from construction demolition.

Some of the plants on the properties will be transplanted, too. According to Hall, someone who once lived at one of the homes will be removing and replanting perennials. 

He said the Fire Department and Police Department will also use the buildings for training purposes. 

Scarborough Fire Chief Michael Thurlow said emergency responders will be focusing on “mayday” training, such as breaching walls and forcible entry, as well as cutting holes in the roofs for vertical ventilation training. 

Thurlow said there will likely not be live burn training due to the homes’ proximity to Route 1 and the inability to control smoke. He said it’s a rare opportunity to have a structure available. 

Hall said he expects demolition and construction to begin early next month. The new public safety building, approved by voters in November 2017, has a 15-month build-out time, he said. 

The proposed 53,000-square-foot building will house police, fire and emergency dispatch, along the south side of the Municipal Building on U.S. Route 1. 

The estimate includes construction costs of about $17 million and covers the building, site work, a new access road and a communications tower. Soft costs, such as furnishings, equipment and security systems, would be about $2.8 million. A $1.7 million contingency is also built into the plan.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at Follow her on Twitter @JulietteLaaka.

Habitat for Humanity volunteer Kathi O’Grady helps ReStore Manager Andrew Smith remove doors in a Scarborough house slated for demolition next month. 

This house at 271 Route 1 in Scarborough will be demolished to make way for a new public safety building.