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Ellsworth to see first glimpse of new community center, senior living complex at former Moore School

Mario Moretto | BDN
Mario Moretto | BDN
Children from the a Downeast Family YMCA day camp arrive at the former Bryant E. Moore school on State Street, Ellsworth, on Thursday, July 19, 2012.
By Mario Moretto, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Residents here next month will have the first of many chances to weigh in on a proposal to build a 91-bed senior living facility at the athletic field of the former Moore School on State Street.

First Atlantic Healthcare, which has agreed to buy a 2.5-acre portion of the Moore School lot from the city for $70,000, will present a sketch plan of the development at a March 6 planning board meeting. The company owns the 44-bed Collier’s Rehab and Nursing Center on Birch Avenue, and plans to close that facility when the new building is complete.

As part of the purchase agreement, First Atlantic will give the Birch Avenue building to the city after it moves Collier’s to the expanded complex at the former school. City Manager Michelle Beal said no decisions have been made about what the city will do with that building.

The city also will present a sketch plan to expand and renovate the former Moore School to better serve its current function as a home to the Downeast Family YMCA’s daycare program, Friends in Action’s senior programs, and the city’s community center.

Comments from the public will be accepted on both proposals, though the Planning Board will make no decision after this initial review.

First Atlantic’s new facility will be a two-story complex of about 63,600 square feet, located on a portion of the lot bordering Oak Street and a series of residences along Birch Avenue, according to application materials from the company.

Those residents, who already neighbor the Moore building and will be neighbors to the First Atlantic project, have been notified of the meeting and encouraged to attend with questions, Beal said.

The project will be composed of a 61-unit nursing care facility dubbed “Seaport Village Healthcare” and a 30-bed assisted living wing called “The Inn at Seaport Village.”

The bulk of parking for both the senior facility and the renamed Moore Community Center will be located between the two buildings, accessible via State Street. Employee parking for First Atlantic will be on Oak Street, in a space currently occupied by the city’s basketball courts.

Beal said the courts will likely be relocated to an empty city-owned lot on Forest Avenue.

As for the Moore building, the city plans to expand the footprint by about 4,500 square feet by filling in a courtyard in a crook between wings of the existing building. Then, the building will be upgraded to better suit the needs of the YMCA, Friends in Action and the city.

“It’s going to be pretty much gutted,” Beal said.

Beal said that when the Moore Community Center is finished, a cafeteria, dining area, theater and other facilities will be available for use by the public. About 20 groups, including many nonprofits, already use the building for day-to-day operations or functions, she said.

After the initial review, both First Atlantic and the city will meet with the planning board twice more before obtaining final approval and permission to break ground.

Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.

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