SOUTH PORTLAND — A nearly 4-acre parcel at the end of Sunset Avenue on the city’s west side will be the site of a new affordable housing project.
The joint venture between the South Portland Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland will include eight single-family homes. A ninth lot will be donated to the city for open space.
The project received approval from the Planning Board Wednesday. Board members said they’ve reviewed many different proposals for the parcel over the past 20 years, many of which involved a zone change. The current project, dubbed Sunset Place, also required a zone change, which was granted this past summer.
In addition, Sunset Avenue will be extended to provide access to the new development. Planning and Development Director Tex Haeuser said all the homes will have access to public utilities, including natural gas, water, and internet.
He said the homes will be income-restricted for households making 80% or less of the area median income, which was $66,030 for South Portland in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Isaac Misiuk, a development officer for the South Portland Housing Authority, said the target date for the homes to be completed and occupied is fall 2022. Habitat will try to build at least two homes a year.
Under the Habitat model, homes are sold with affordable monthly payments through subsidized financing. In addition, families are required to invest around $2,000 for closing costs, and must put in at least 275 hours of sweat equity to help build their homes, according to the organization’s website.
All qualifying families must also have a minimum income of $30,000 and a maximum income based on family size, which for a family of four is $74,400, the website states.
The project is similar to one Habitat just completed in Scarborough, where it worked with the town to create a 13-unit, mixed-income neighborhood off Broadturn Road called Carpenter Court. That project also included setting aside land for conservation.
To keep site development costs to a minimum, Sam Lebel from Acorn Engineering, who is the engineer on the Sunset Place project, said there would be no sidewalks and keeping the roadway as narrow as possible will mean no on-street parking will be allowed.
The parking situation, as well as site conditions that include steep slopes and wetland impacts, concerned some members of the Planning Board. Overall, though, they agreed with board member Linda Boudreau, who called it “a very good proposal we’re seeing here. It’s certainly better than anything we’ve seen before.”
Another board member, Shahida Keen, suggested the housing authority and Habitat hold a meeting to introduce people in Thornton Heights to the project and to answer questions, including those about impacts from construction.
The project will also help South Portland meet its goal of increasing the availability of housing that’s affordable to lower- and middle-income households by 10% no later than 2025, which is part of a broader, more regional effort championed by the Greater Portland Council of Governments.
source: PORTLAND PRESS HERALD
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