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Construction of a 45-unit housing project worth $6 million is expected to start in Ellsworth by year’s end now that the city’s Planning Board has approved it.
Site work on developer Jonathan Bates’ 45-unit Jefferson Luxe Townhouses on Beechland Road will come first. Construction of his 15-unit, $3.3 million Denver Way Eco Homes development on Bangor Road is to follow next spring, Bates said Friday.
“The demand for this housing is very strong,” Bates said. “We see it more than anybody because people reach out to us directly. It is a frustration for them that they can’t find the good housing here that they are looking for.”
Bates announced the projects in April, saying he embarked upon them partly in response to what Jackson Laboratory officials called their significant challenges in finding affordable housing for their workforce in Hancock County.
The proposed developments are part of a housing boomlet in Ellsworth, the county seat and service hub, which city officials said was spurred by a local housing shortage and an economy stirred by Jackson Lab’s $200 million mice breeding center.
Jackson has 1,400 workers in Bar Harbor and will eventually have as many as 350 at the vivarium, which opened in September 2018.
The board voted 5-0 to approve Jefferson Luxe and Denver Way during a meeting on June 5, said Steve Fuller, city assistant planner.
Jefferson Luxe will cost as much as $6 million to build. It will consist of 45 apartments in four buildings – including three buildings with 11 units – on 1.91 acres. Denver Way will be 15 single-family apartments, down from the 16 originally proposed, between Wittum Road and Penn Way that will cost about $3.3 million, Fuller said.
“The lot size is different from what was originally listed, after a surveyor’s measurements were compared against the city’s records,” Fuller said. “These buildings will essentially be the same as the two buildings the applicant is constructing on Washington Street.”
Called Washington Luxe, Bates’ two 24-unit, three-story buildings at 29 Washington St. were half occupied as of Friday, said Bates, an Ellsworth resident who owns 56 commercial and residential properties in the city. Built at a cost of $2.2 million, Washington Luxe overlooks the Union River.
Bates said he has a few more, smaller projects in the works for Ellsworth, but declined to provide details.