October 24, 2018
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Shuttered Kenduskeag school eyed for affordable senior housing

KENDUSKEAG, Maine — If all goes according to plan, area seniors will have an affordable place to call home, thanks to a renovation project proposed by Penquis CAP.

The plan to convert the town’s former elementary school, which closed last summer, into senior housing will be the focus of a meeting at the Kenduskeag Town Office at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Though plans are in the early stages, Penquis CAP Housing Development Director Jason Bird said that about 16 units plus a community room and laundry facilities are proposed for the former school, which currently is owned by the town.

“We don’t own it yet,” Bird said. “The town has voted to give us the property if we determine that we want it, and I think we’ve reached the point where we’ve determined that we want it.”

The building was constructed in two phases, the first in the 1960s and the second in the 1980s.

“So we know there’s some asbestos tile and lead-based paint and stuff like that that we’ll have to address,” he said.

The purpose of Monday’s meeting is to have the public act as a focus group for Penquis, Bird said.

“We already kind of know what we want to do with the building, with that project,” he said. “But we kind of want to give them the opportunity to come in and because they’re going to be the target audience for the most part and the town is being such a good partner, giving us the building pretty much.”

He said residents will have an opportunity to see the initial design, and they are welcome to offer recommendations.

The project is expected to cost $1.3 million, which includes money for a new roof and a sprinkler system, Bird said. He said that Penquis is applying for $1 million through the state’s Community Development Block Grant program and plans to borrow the balance.

“I think it’ll be the first affordable housing property in town,” he said. “We hope to get 16 units. It’s not a lot, but for a rural setting it will be a good size.”

Most of the units likely will be rented to seniors whose income is 60 percent or less of the area median income, but some will be rented a market rate to help us subsidize the cost of renting to low-income individuals, Bird said.

A timetable for the project will depend on when funding is secured.

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