CAMDEN, Maine — Construction began Friday on four new apartments to serve adults with developmental disabilities. A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday at 61 Elm St. in downtown Camden.
Joseph Curll, executive director of Coastal Opportunities in Camden, said in a news release that the supportive-living apartment home is expected to be occupied by Nov. 30.
The new facility will include three resident apartments on the first floor and one “sympathetic tenant” unit on the second floor.
“One of the main goals for the design of the new apartments is to create living space that allows its residents to age in place,” Curll said in the news release.
Curll said aging in place is a term used to describe a person living in a residence for as long as they are able and being able to have any services they might need over time as their needs change.
The apartments are designed to meet this goal with smooth, ground-level entrances without stairs, wide interior doors and hallways, and bright and appropriate lighting.
The Coastal Opportunities tenants currently live at 59 Elm St. on property owned by the First Congregational Church of Camden.
Coastal Opportunities has been leasing the property for 25 years. A decision was made to build the new apartments next door because of the condition of the Elm Street residences and because the new location keeps the residents close to downtown for employment or services.
Last October, church members voted to sell 61 Elm St. to Coastal Opportunities for the new housing.
Christopher Glass, project architect, chose to reproduce features from the older building to “maintain the charm and character of the historic downtown neighborhood.” The old house will be razed.
Stephen Hanscom, president of the First Congregational Church of Camden, summed up the agreement as “a mutually beneficial transaction that serves both parties in the best sense of community preservation.”
Project partners for the new home include: Glass, architect; Maine Coast Construction, general contractor; Tad Stone, project manager; Randy Scamfer, consulting engineer; Gartley Dorsky Engineering and Surveying, Inc., site planning; Farley & Son Landscaping, earthwork; Clear Brook Builders, building framing; Achorn Electric; All Heat; Bryant Plumbing; Floor Magic; INS Insulation; Irv’s Drywall; Mainely Concrete; The Paint Company; and Performance Paving.
Established in 1971 as The Coastal Workshop, Coastal Opportunities is a private, nonprofit corporation governed by a local board of directors whose mission is to assist adults with developmental disabilities to become participating members of their social and economic community.
About 90 adults with developmental disabilities receive day and/or residential services annually. Coastal Opportunities employs about 90 staff and owns or operates 11 sites—in Camden, Rockport, Rockland, Owls Head, Hope and Thomaston—to support individuals in residential and day programs. The primary service area is Knox County.
Coastal Opportunities provides a variety of services to adults in the day and employment program. Long-term support is provided to individuals who sort bottles at the Coastal Redemption Center. On-site day programming is provided at the Thomas F. Corcoran Center and the Olive Coates Center, both located on Limerock Street in Camden.
Coastal Opportunities individuals volunteer their time for Meals on Wheels, Knox Center, Tanglewood 4-H Camp, Camden Food Pantry, Nativity Lutheran Church, Windward Gardens, Goodwill, South Thomaston United Methodist Church, Bay Chamber Concerts, P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center, First Congregational Church of Camden, Pope Memorial Humane Society of Knox County, Owls Head Transportation Museum, United Mid-Coast Charities, and Merryspring Nature Center.