Brewer News

Brewer Housing Authority issues second request for bids for $2.5 million community center

BREWER, Maine — Brewer Housing Authority has issued a second request for bids to construct a new $2.5 million community center after the first round of bids were all too high, Executive Director Gordon Stitham said Monday.

Slight adjustments were made to the design to reduce costs before the second request was issued, he said.

“We had to modify the building,” Stitham said. “We went from 12,500 [square feet] to 11,700 and … we’re not putting in a basement.”

The conference room was reduced in size and the plans now have the roof topped with asphalt shingles instead of steel or aluminum and vinyl siding, he said.

A walk-through for the site will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, with those interested meeting at the housing authority office at 15 Colonial Circle, suite 1. Bid requests are due by 2 p.m. Friday, March 8.

“On March 18, the board is going to select the contractor,” Stitham said.

The housing authority learned in September 2011 that it was one of five chosen from a pool of 58 countrywide that applied for a portion of $15 million in funds to build preschool, adult education or job training facilities.

HUD awarded Brewer $2,491,690 to build the one-story community center.

The facility will be situated next to the Chamberlain Place senior housing project at 258 Chamberlain St. that Nickerson & O’Day of Brewer is currently building. The 32 rental units, 26 of which will be for low-income residents, should be finished by May or June and the housing authority plans to break ground on the adjacent community center this spring, Stitham said.

“We divided that 4.7 acres [at 258 Chamberlain St.] and we gave a portion to the Chamberlain Place senior housing project and the other part is going to be for the community center,” he said.

The community center will have classrooms for housing authority residents to take classes to further their education, learn about homeownership and other opportunities through the Family Economic and Self-Sufficiency and the Resident Opportunity and Self-Sufficiency programs.

Residents currently can take classes and get job training at several locations in Bangor under the two programs. With the new community center, they will be able to take those classes at a facility on the housing authority’s campus. In the past 10 years, more than four dozen BHA residents have taken classes under the programs and at least six have been able to purchase homes, Stitham said.

The new facility also will have a Headstart day care program run by Bangor-based social services agency Penquis.

“It’s going to be set up for Brewer [housing authority] residents first and then it will be opened up to the public,” Stitham said.

The housing authority reached out to Penquis after learning about the costs to register, license and operate a day care, and is offering the space at no cost, the housing authority director said.

A copyright article from the Bangor Daily News by Nok-Noi Ricker