South Portland Planning Board praises plan for new apartments

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The Planning Board gave preliminary approval Tuesday for a 118-unit apartment complex in the Brickhill development.

The board and City Council approved a zoning change for the project this spring, which changed the zoning from professional office to residential use, and increased the number of residential units by 35, to allow a total of 335 units.

The proposal still requires final approval from the Planning Board, which is expected before the end of the summer.

The housing will be built on nearly 6.5 acres at the back of the development, at 20 Lydia Lane.

The $15 million project, which will be completed in two phases over the span of about five years, will be in an area bordered by the Portland International Jetport, Opportunity Alliance, and the Maine Medical Center building known as “The Castle.”

The initial proposal in the spring included 10 apartment buildings with about a dozen units each; the revised plans include nine buildings, four of which will be handicapped accessible, Patrick Carroll, of Carroll Associates, told the Planning Board Aug. 9. 

The neighborhood already includes low-income housing, senior and affordable family rentals, and market-rate condos. 

The 118 additional apartments being proposed would be the neighborhood’s first market-rate rentals.

The one-bedroom units are slated to be 1,000-1,100 square feet, with  two-bedroom units at 1,200-1,300 square feet. 

Current market rates for rental housing are about $1 per square foot, Kevin Bunker, co-founder of Developers Collaborative, told the board in April, meaning rent for the proposed apartments would be $1,000-$1,300 a month. 

The board’s enthusiasm for the large project comes at a time when the ad hoc Affordable Housing Committee – tasked with proposing solutions for the city’s lack of affordable housing – is poised to present its findings to the City Council at the end of this month. 

Planning Board member Isaac Misiuk, who is also chairman of the Affordable Housing Committee, said Monday that “introducing more housing in the city … is a great benefit for South Portland and its residents.”

Although, he said, “I wish that we could’ve seen some three-bedrooms because there aren’t a lot of three-bedrooms in South Portland.” 

Board Chairman William Laidley told the developers, “I think you guys are responding (with) an appropriate product (in) a much-needed market.” 

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

Construction of 118 market-rate, one- and two-bedroom apartments in the Brickhill development in South Portland is on track for final approval. 

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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.