Final Vote Possible on Adams School Redevelopment

August 9, 2011 in Articles

Author: Casey Conley
Publication: Portland Daily Sun

Avesta Housing officials are hoping for final planning board approval tonight on a planned $5.9 million redevelopment of the former Adams School site.The project, which has taken several forms since it was first introduced in 2008, calls for construction of 16 condo units on a three-quarter-acre parcel on Moody Street, atop Munjoy Hill.

The project also includes a new green way connecting Beckett and O’Brion streets and a playground for neighborhood kids.“There have been various meetings and workshops and discussions along the way,” said Dana Totman, Avesta’s president and CEO. “I think (tonight) we seek final approval.”

Adams School, which offered kindergarten through third grade, closed in 2006 with the opening of East End Community School. In 2008, the city selected the development proposal offered by Avesta, a Portland nonprofit, to build housing on the site.

Initially, Avesta was planning to purchase the entire 1.5-acre school lot and develop up to 40 condo units, with 20 two- and three-bedrooms and 20 one-bedrooms. The concept was to have families live in the larger units and in-laws or parents living in the attached one-bedroom units.

Those plans changed in part because of the economy and in part because of other similar developments that came online elsewhere in the city, Avesta officials said last year.

The latest plans call for development of eight two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom condo units on .74-acres of land between Moody, Munjoy, Vesper and Wilson streets. The remaining .76-acre parcel not bought by Avesta will remain city property.

Funding for the project is coming from a variety of sources, including nearly $1.7 million in federal stimulus funds and sale of the condos.

Not everyone will qualify for the units. Totman said income eligibility will be capped at 120 percent of the area median income. In real numbers, that will mean a family of four could not have a combined income of more than $87,000. For a family of three, that limit is about $78,000.

Avesta expects to sell the two-bedroom units for $225,000 and the three-bedroom units for about $275,000. A year ago, Avesta pegged the sale prices at $215,000 for two-bedrooms and $260,000 for three-bedroom units.

Totman said there have already been multiple inquiries about the units, which he expects will sell despite slack demand in the city’s condo market.

“Having an affordable condo, which is what these will be, I think we are pretty comfortable with the market we are targeting,” he said.

After several design iterations and a three-year lead time, Totman said he is “thrilled” that the project is moving forward, which will create jobs and reinvigorate a vacant section of Munjoy Hill.

The former school building has already been demolished in preparation for construction.

Pending planning board approval, Avesta expects the project will go out to bid in September and for construction to begin in October or November. The project is expected to take about a year, start to finish.

The planning board meets tonight at 7 p.m. in room 209 at City Hall.

Adams School
Avesta Housing officials are hoping for final planning board approval tonight on a planned $5.9 million redevelopment of the former Adams School site. Here, an artist's rendering offers a glimpse of what the new housing will look like. (COURTESY IMAGE)




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