South Portland housing projects will add 100 affordable apartments

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The development branch of the city Housing Authority may build as many as 104 new affordable apartments in two neighborhoods.

The projects will be built by the nonprofit South Portland Housing Development Corp. on Ocean Street in Knightville, between B and C streets, and on a 3-acre lot on Sunset Avenue in Thornton Heights.

“In South Portland, the median income for a family of four is $83,400,” Michael Hulsey, executive director of the development agency, said in a press release Tuesday. “We know how difficult it is to find housing in South Portland for families at or below that income level. This proposed housing community offers affordable homes to a wide range of families with income levels at or below the area median income.”

Hulsey also said the agency’s current waiting list for three-bedroom apartments is more than six years long. “Keep in mind that we are just one housing agency of many in South Portland with these long wait lists,” he added.

In Knightville, the SPHDC has signed an agreement to buy the former Martin’s Point Health Care building at 51 Ocean St. and an adjacent property at 63 Ocean St.

Drew Sigfridson, managing director and partner at commercial real estate company CBRE/The Boulos Co., said the asking price for both properties was just over $1.8 million, although neither he nor Hulsey would disclose the purchase price.

The SPHDC plans a two-phased development in Knightville.

The first phase includes a five-story building with commercial or retail space on the first floor, with up to 48 apartments on the floors above. The plans call for two studio apartments, 32 one-bedroom apartments and 14 two-bedroom units, with covered parking in the rear.

In a phone interview, Hulsey said the acquisition is scheduled to close in mid-summer.

“It is our hope we would be to start construction in 2018,” he said.

Hulsey said the development corporation would like to submit an application to the Maine State Housing Authority’s low-income tax program in the fall, which could affect when construction would begin.

The former Martin’s Point Health Care building, which is vacant, would be demolished to make room for the new building.

The second Knightville building at 63 Ocean St. is under a lease that Hulsey said SPHDC intends to honor for the next several years.

According to the press release, that phase of the Knightville project is planned for 2020 and includes a four-story building with 28 apartments or condominiums, as well as retail space at ground level.

“We see the vision that the city of South Portland has for this area and want to be a part of it,” Hulsey said in a press release. “This is our way of investing in that vision and the revitalization of the Knightville area.”

The Thornton Heights proposal includes building 28 family apartments on Sunset Avenue, in two 14-unit buildings with a mixture of two- and three- bedroom units.

Hulsey said the development corporation purchased the 3-acre lot from Gorham Sand & Gravel.

He said a zoning change will be sought for the property and they hope to have the project in front of the Planning Board in late May, with construction tentatively scheduled for fall.

The corporation will be holding neighborhood forums about both projects: May 2 from 5-7 p.m. at 51 Landry Circle for the Thornton Heights project, and May 9 from 5-7 p.m. at 100 Waterman Drive for the Knightville project.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter@melaniesochan.

The South Portland Housing Development Corp. will acquire the former Martin’s Point Health Care building at 51 Ocean St. in Knightville, and plans to convert the property to a combination of commercial space and affordable rental housing.

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