BATH, Maine — U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree on Monday announced $10 million in federal loans that officials say will entirely fund a new, 50,000-square-foot expansion of the Plant Home, a retirement home overlooking the Kennebec River.
Two community facilities loans totaling $10 million have been obligated, with terms of up to 40 years, according to Virginia Manuel, state director of USDA rural development in Maine.
“We know Maine has an aging population and to be able to help more seniors be in housing long-term is one of our goals,” she said.
The expansion, which has been approved by the city’s planning board and city council, will add 45 new units of housing. The Plant Home currently includes 37 private apartments in the main building, 11 apartments in duplexes and one single-occupant building.
“This is a warm and wonderful place that is so important to the citizens of Bath,” Pingree told residents, family members and others gathered Monday. “Our seniors need our care … Pretty soon one out of four people in Maine will be a senior citizen and we we need more places like this.”
Don Capoldo, executive director of the Plant Home, said officials began to think of the expansion about five years ago, when they realized the home’s endowment — currently about $2.5 million — would not last because so many residents are now subsidized.
“We knew we were going to have to raise six figures and … add more market rate [units] to subsidize them … We thought, we have all this land, and we have 100 years of experience.”
For Alice Whittaker, 83, the home has provided “a wonderful experience” since she moved there two months ago with her husband, who died within days of them moving in.
Staff and residents provided amazing support during that time, she said, adding, “If I had been alone at the time, I would have been very, very lonely.”
Bath City Manager Bill Giroux said Thursday that the expansion continues the original mission of home’s founder, Thomas Plant, who set aside $440,000 in 1917 to create an endowment that, in part, still funds the retirement home on the Kennebec River.
“People love the Plant Home,” he said. “They love the fact that when they get old and need a home, there’s a place they can go.”
There’s no question, former board member Marla Davis said, “This place matters.”