Penquis secures funds to start building $4M senior complex

Posted Feb. 03, 2009, at 9:59 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11:02 a.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — Construction should begin in April at the former Lake Mall site on a $4.07 million, 24-unit senior housing complex that will fill the last of eight Main Street properties devastated by arson in late 2002, town officials said Tuesday.

“It’s going to be fabulous,” Town Manager and Town Clerk Lisa Goodwin said. “It will bring life to that end of Main Street. It’s been a void there for six years.”

Officials from social service agency Penquis of Bangor told Goodwin last week that they had secured funding enough to begin building the project, she said. Penquis officials have referred comment to Lincoln officials.

Called Lakeview Senior Housing, the building at Main Street and West Broadway will be about 15,000 square feet. What it won’t have, Goodwin said, is a town office and a regional office for Penquis.

The Town Council had for several months been considering Penquis’ offer to move the town office from 63 Main St., but Penquis’ decision to not have its own regional office in the housing complex helped make town office plans untenable, Goodwin said.

To have a town office in the complex, Lincoln would have had to absorb the space that would have been filled by Penquis’ office, which would have added $500,000 to the town’s costs, Goodwin said.

The lack of detailed information about the costs the town would have borne within the Penquis building also hindered town efforts, she said.

Also, the town would have had to amend its financial documentation on the project, which would have pushed back the project’s start date, Goodwin said.

“It’s an opportunity lost, but it’s not the only opportunity we have,” Goodwin said. “When you set out to do something, you set out to explore all the options … The timing was not right.”

The present town office lacks adequate storage space, complete Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, and is cramped for town workers, councilors have said.

Lincoln had helped Penquis secure a Community Development Block Grant program Housing Assistance Grant for $250,000 and is helping the organization with a tax-increment financing deal, or TIF. The council voted 7-0 to support those initiatives in September.

Tax increment financing is among the state’s leading tools for aiding economic development. When a town realizes an increase in valuation created by an investment, it also experiences a reduction in its share of state revenues and an increase in county taxes. A TIF allows a town to “shelter” the new valuation from the calculations of state revenue sharing, education subsidy and county tax assessment — in effect creating more money for the town, usually over 20 years.

The Penquis TIF, town Economic Development Director Ruth Birtz has said, will allow Penquis to use the sheltered valuation funds to lower the rent charged to seniors and make it affordable for them.

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