May 24, 2018
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Elderly-housing project on Belfast agenda

By Walter Griffin

BELFAST, Maine — Despite the slumping economy, the city has a number of building projects on the drawing board that should create jobs and economic stability.

City Planner Wayne Marshall said the projects range from a new McDonald’s restaurant to a 34-unit housing project for the elderly. Some already have building permits, while others are making their way through the planning board pipeline.

“It is at least encouraging there are still new projects being considered in Belfast,” Marshall said Wednesday. “They certainly will be a boost to the economy and to private contractors.”

Marshall said Belfast Co-Housing already has received approval to establish a 41-unit project on the former Keene Farm on Edgecomb Road. He said the owners plan to have half of the homes under construction within a year. The farm is jointly owned by the project while the individuals will own their own homes. Marshall said the new homes would be in the $140,000 to $200,000 price range.

King Bishop of Castle Homes has received preliminary approval to build the $5 million 34-unit housing project on a 2-acre site on Searsport Avenue.

The project would be a congregate care facility, meaning it would combine private living quarters with centralized services.

Marshall said Bishop was prepared to begin construction but wants to nail down a management deal before doing so.

“His intent is clearly to try and bring in an outside firm to manage the facility,” Marshall said of Bishop. “His involvement will be in the construction end.”

One project scheduled for spring groundbreaking is the new McDonald’s on Belmont Avenue. Marshall said the franchise owners plan to level the 1970s-vintage McDonald’s and replace it with an updated version. Along with the new restaurant, the project will consist of extensive groundwork, including new access roads and parking. Marshall said the owners want to have the new restaurant up and running within 100 days of demolition of the old one.

Waldo County General Hospital will present its plans for a two-story, 14,000-square-foot office building to be built on the annex across Northport Avenue from the hospital. Marshall said the project’s construction timetable was up in the air because the hospital was holding off its commitment until the state completes the budget.

“They are waiting to see how this year’s state budget sorts out,” he said. “They want approval to go forward based on market conditions.”

Another project under way is Art House’s eight-unit duplex housing project off Stevenson Lane on the city’s east side.

Marshall said House also was trying to put together a deal to build a hotel-office-marina complex at the former Stinson Seafood property on the city’s waterfront. The property has been on the market for more than a year, and Marshall said House was lining up financing for his proposal.

Two Department of Transportation projects also should pump some money into the local economy this year. A $100,000 traffic calming project designed to slow traffic at the Searsport Avenue end of the Veterans Memorial Bridge, and to improve the pedestrian crossing at the intersection of Route 141 and Route 1, should be put out to bid this spring.

A second DOT and city project in the works, creation of a $450,000 coastal pedestrian walkway along the waterfront, should be ready to go to bid in late summer.

“There are quite a few things in the works right now,” Marshall said. “They will be good for jobs and good for the economy.”

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