Scarborough neighborhood a new strategy for Habitat for Humanity

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SCARBOROUGH — Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland could break ground as soon as this winter on its largest project to date, a 13-home affordable neighborhood at 75 Broadturn Road.

Representatives from Habitat, the local affiliate of the international low-income housing provider, will meet with the Planning Board on Sept. 15, and hope to gain final approval of the project next month. 

Habitat Development Associate Mark Primeau, who met with the Scarborough Housing Alliance on Sept. 8, said the project is on track to begin building a new road this winter, and to start home construction as soon as next spring. The agency hopes to complete eight homes in the first two years. 

The project has been several years in the making. The town acquired the 5.5-acre parcel, between Saratoga Road and the Maine Turnpike, in 2006, with the intent to use it for low- to moderate-income family housing.

Habitat for Humanity representatives have met with neighbors and presented to the Planning Board on multiple occasions, most recently in April where members had only minor suggestions.

“This has been such a long time coming,” Primeau said. “I think everybody’s just ready to go.”

For the town’s part, Town Manager Tom Hall said a sewer line extension to the project site, made possible by a community development block grant, is out to bid and due back Sept. 16. If all goes well, the sewer work will begin this fall.

Although prices have not been finalized, Primeau said homes in the looped street would range from $190,000 to $225,000. Median home value in Scarborough is around $300,000. 

It’s too soon for families to apply for ownership, but Primeau said many have already expressed interest in the homes.

The current site plans reflect a reduction in the original number of homes suggested for the development, which was 17 to 24 units and included duplexes. The proposal is now 13 single-family homes, each with three or four bedrooms. Primeau has said that change was important both to the future homeowners and nearby residents, who in the past expressed concerns about the scale of the project. 

The project comes on the heels of an eight-unit condominium development the agency has almost completed in Freeport, and represents a significant departure from the group’s traditional practice of building homes one at a time.

Habitat has already started seeking grants for the Broadturn development, but once they have Planning Board approval, Primeau said full focus will be on fundraising. He estimated the group must raise about $100,000 per home, and he hopes to do so “as fast as possible” with corporate and community support.

He also said Habitat for Humanity has been talking with other towns, most recently Falmouth, about projects similar in strategy to the Broadturn development.

“This model where towns come in and donate land and you assemble partners after that, I think it’s fantastic,” Primeau said.

 Shelby Carignan can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or scarignan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @shelbycarignan.

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