ELLSWORTH, Maine — Crews were clearing ground Wednesday on a $2.2 million apartment complex due to open next year overlooking Union River.
Called Washington Luxe, the two three-story buildings at 29 Washington St. should be finished by autumn 2019, said developer Jonathan Bates of Stone Park Properties LLC of Ellsworth.
With its 24 luxury apartments, Washington Luxe is among more than 99 housing units under review or being built in Ellsworth, a city of about 7,750 residents that is the county seat and service hub of Hancock County.
City officials and developers have said that the building boom is part pent-up demand and a reaction to the construction of a $200 million research-mouse breeding center in Ellsworth. The Jackson Laboratory will hold a ribbon-cutting at its center, which will eventually employ 350 people, on Thursday.
Despite the complexes’ expected lease rates — $1,275 a month for two bedrooms and one bath per apartment — finding tenants for the two-bedroom apartments should be easy, said Bates, an Ellsworth resident who owns 34 commercial and residential properties in the city.
“When we put something on the market in Ellsworth, within 24 hours it is usually spoken for,” Bates said Wednesday. “Elsewhere, it’s a struggle.”
It took 24 hours to fill his nine-unit townhouse complex off Bangor Road, on the newly created Denver Way, when it went on the market in June, he said.
The Planning Board approved Washington Luxe with a 5-0 vote Aug. 8.
According to draft meeting minutes, board members expressed concerns about stormwater runoff and wondered whether Luxe’s 18 parking spaces would suffice given the lack of parking on Washington, which runs up a steep hill from Water Street and the Ellsworth Harbor Park and Marina to Route 1.
The project meets city parking standards and area stormwater drains can handle excessive runoff from Washington Luxe, City Planner Michele Gagnon said, according to the minutes.
Of the 24 apartments in the two buildings, some will be penthouses, possibly furnished with professional interior design. Bates hopes tenants will take advantage of the property’s being within walking distance of Route 1 and downtown.
“I am trying to blur the lines between hotels and townhomes, just in terms of design, not in terms of length of stay,” Bates said.
Young professionals and baby boomers who are downsizing as they get into middle age will likely be his tenants, Bates said.
“Right now the market is millennials with good jobs who don’t want to be attached to anything,” Bates said. “They want to be able to leave their BMWs and walk to do their shopping or go to Houston or Seattle in four years.”
Follow the Bangor Daily News on Facebook for the latest Maine news.