Houlton breaks ground on $2.5M apartments

Posted Aug. 20, 2009, at 8:55 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:43 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Although the process has taken longer than anticipated, town officials and others connected to a $2.5 million, three-story apartment complex were excited to break ground Thursday on Market Square Commons.

Town Manager Doug Hazlett joined with town councilors, officials from Coastal Enterprises Inc, economic development leaders and representatives from the state’s congressional delegation for the groundbreaking ceremony in Market Square.

“We are very excited about this project and we are happy to get going,” John Egan, housing developer for CEI, said at the start of the ceremony. “This facility will be a real gem and will fit in with the historical standards of the area.”

The company announced in late 2007 that it would construct the complex in Market Square in the back of the Temple Theatre parking lot. The project gained approval from the municipal planning and zoning boards.

Then the economy tanked, and funding for the project was uncertain for a time.

But the last financial hurdles were cleared in June and earthmoving equipment moved onto the grounds a short time later. The equipment has created a massive crater in the back of the parking lot, and part of the building’s foundation is in place.

The project will create 28 units that will be rented to seniors in one- and two-person households. Five units have been set aside for tenants with visual impairments.

Residents who meet eligibility standards will pay rents of $430-$575 a month, including all utilities, according to information provided by CEI.

Financing for the project came from MaineHousing, an independent state agency that combines public and private housing funds, along with other sources, to benefit Maine’s low- and moderate-income residents. CEI is posting a $600,000 financial commitment to the project.

An on-site services coordinator will assist in linking residents with local services and transportation. The housing is not intended for seniors with critical health care needs who would be better served in assisted living or medium- to long-term health care facilities.

The complex, which will have a brick facade, will take approximately a year to construct.

“We wanted to create a place where senior citizens can live for a long time,” Egan said Thursday. “This is the perfect location and this building will be energy-efficient to keep operating costs as low as possible.”

“This is a wonderful project and a great partnership between the public and private sector,” echoed Hazlett. “It will be a great addition to our town.”

U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, in concert with Rep. Mike Michaud, were similarly pleased.

“This will be a wonderful new home for area senior citizens, and I am confident that its future residents will be happy here,” Michaud said in a statement.

Snowe noted that the facility would be a safe, affordable facility for tenants and is close to shops, services and municipal and state government offices.

Collins pointed out that the boost in the downtown population would give the downtown stores, shops and restaurants “a much needed economic boost.”

The building is scheduled to house residents sometime next year.

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