Brewer News

Brewer apartment projects at former school sites scheduled to start later this year

BREWER, Maine — Brewer officials have granted final approval for a 48-unit apartment complex at the former site of the State Street School, which is home to a few piles of rock and rubble and a couple pieces of construction equipment.

“I anticipate we’ll start construction in November of December,” said Erin Cooperrider, development director for Community Housing of Maine. That process will take about a year, with apartment leases starting in late 2015.

Meanwhile, the city is preparing to hand over a nearby building, the former Brewer Middle School at 5 Somerset St., to developers for its conversion into more affordable apartment units.

The two apartment buildings, located on about 4.6 acres of land, will share a parking lot.

“The city of Brewer wants to ensure that there are a diversity of housing options available here in Brewer, and these two projects help with that goal,” said D’arcy Main-Boyington, Brewer’s economic development director.

The three-story Village Centre at the former State Street School site will include 21 one-bedroom units, 17 two-bedroom and 10 three-bedroom units. City officials approved the site development plan and zoning district change for the $9.5 million project last week. The old State Street School was demolished in a project that started in March.

In September, the Brewer City Council approved a tax-increment financing deal with Portland-based nonprofit Community Housing of Maine. It reduces the property taxes for an LLC formed under Community Housing of Maine, requiring them to pay 49 percent of the project’s property taxes for the first 15 years after the apartments are completed. Once that time passes, Village Centre Housing Partners will begin paying the full tax bill to the city.

Community Housing of Maine has been behind some 75 projects in 39 communities across the state — 17 of those housing projects have been developed in the Bangor area. One of the most notable recent examples was the conversion of a building at the historic Bangor Theological Seminary campus into affordable housing units.

Village Centre residents will have to meet certain income eligibility requirements, falling into a bracket of the workforce that typically includes nurses, firefighters and others with similar earning potential, according to Cooperrider.

Final designs for the building are being ironed out, she added

Brewer Housing Authority and Northern New England Housing Investment Fund are collaborating on the middle school project, which will create 28 affordable senior housing units for people over age 55. City workers have been inside removing hazardous materials in recent weeks, preparing the site for renovations, according to Main-Boyington.

That project is slated to start in August, with a projected May 2015 completion, according to Gordon Stitham of Brewer Housing Authority. The developers have secured about $6.4 million in financing, he said.

Brewer City Council agreed to sell the empty school to the housing authority for $15,000, and in October 2012 created the Highland Street Community Revitalization Plan project to revitalize the block around the old school.

The schools were vacated when Brewer Community School opened its doors in 2011. Since then, Washington Street, Capri Street, Pendleton Street and State Street schools each have been torn down. Only the former Brewer Middle School will remain standing.

BDN reporter Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this story.

A copyright article from The Bangor Daily News by Nick McCrea.