This Ultra-Efficient Portland Apartment Building Doesn’t Need Central Heating

Until recently, “passive housing” — residences built to achieve ultra-low energy use — has been kind of a boutique-y effort, with eco-minded homeowners making upfront investments to radically reduce their carbon footprint. But now, Maine is on the leading edge of a surge in its development, on a large scale.

Last fall, the nation’s biggest passive housing complex opened in Brewer. The 48-unit Village Center, as it’s called, meets strict energy efficiency standards set by a national institute. It’s one of just 36 such buildings in the country.

And now, the Bayside Anchor — a big, green, somewhat boxy looking four-story building near Portland’s Franklin Street artery — has joined the group.

Fred Bever

Maine Public

Affordable housing units to be unveiled in Portland

Avesta Housing will open 45 new housing units, including 36 earmarked for buyers with a household income of $23,000 to $49,000.

Bayside Anchor, built at a cost of $7.8 million at 81 E. Oxford St., will be a mixed-use passive-house building in the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland.

Avesta, a Portland nonprofit with 2,000 apartments in its portfolio, partnered with the Portland Housing Authority on the project, which will be unveiled on June 7.

“Bayside Anchor is a service hub for low-income residents in East Bayside, giving the project its name as a stabilizing ‘anchor’ for the community,” said PHA Executive Director Mark Adelson.

It is the PHA’s first new development in 45 years and a “first step in revitalizing our properties in this neighborhood,” Adelson added. PHA buildings house 6,500 residents, or 10% of the city’s population.


New Homes to Be Celebrated in Portland’s East Bayside Neighborhood

Portland, Maine – Portland Housing Authority and Avesta Housing will celebrate the grand opening of their recently completed development, Bayside Anchor, on Wednesday June 7 at 5:00 p.m. The program will include a performance by Portland-based Pihcintu Multicultural Choir and tours of apartments. Speakers at the event will be: Mayor Ethan Strimling, City of Portland; Mark Adelson, Executive Director, Portland Housing Authority; Jesse Thompson, Principal, Kaplan Thompson Architects; Alma Balonon-Rosen, Director, Enterprise Community Partners; and MD Islam, Bayside Anchor resident.

Portland Housing Authority (PHA) and Avesta Housing were co-developers on this 45-unit, mixed-income, mixed-use Passive House Building located in the heart of the East Bayside neighborhood in Portland.  The new building has nine market-rate units and 36 affordable units targeted for individuals and families making between approximately $23,000 and $49,000 annually. PHA Executive Director Mark Adelson remarks, “Bayside Anchor is a service hub for low-income residents in East Bayside, giving the project its name as a stabilizing ‘anchor’ for the community.” The street level is home to a Head Start preschool program and Community Policing and PHA offices. Adelson adds, “Bayside Anchor is PHA’s first new development in 45 years, and our first step in revitalizing our properties in this neighborhood. We were delighted to partner with Avesta to add much-needed housing in Portland. These homes, along with the community services Bayside Anchor offers, will further enrich this already vibrant neighborhood.”

Bayside Anchor is the first multifamily building in Portland that will be certified as a Passive House building by the Passive House Institute U.S. (PHIUS).  Passive House is a set of design principles used to attain a quantifiable level of energy efficiency and resident comfort. The cost to operate each unit is predicted to be only $125 annually, and the heating load is estimated to be up to 85% less than if the building had been designed to meet minimum building code requirements.  There is no centralized heating system needed in the building because the building is super insulated, airtight, and well ventilated.  This design creates healthy, quiet, comfortable, and cost-effective homes for 45 households.

Bayside Anchor was designed by Kaplan Thompson Architects and built by Wright-Ryan Construction, both Portland-based companies. Funding for this $7.8 million project came from Enterprise and Deutsche Bank (pre-development loan), Bangor Savings Bank (construction loan), City of Portland (HOME funds), MaineHousing (HOME funds and interest-only debt), and Boston Capital (low income housing tax credit equity).

Bayside Anchor Grand Opening | June 7, 2017 | 81 East Oxford Street, Portland, Maine


5:00 p.m.             Grand opening begins

5:15 p.m.             Program

6:00 p.m.             Apartment tours

About Portland Housing Authority

Portland Housing Authority (PHA) was established in 1943 under State-enabling legislation and authorized by resolution of the Portland City Council. It is covered under the federal Housing Act of 1937 as amended, and primarily funded and regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). PHA and its affiliated corporations provide long-term affordable rental housing and rental assistance to more than 3,000 low-income families, seniors, and disabled individuals through its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Programs. It houses over 6,500 residents, close to 10% of the City’s population. Together with its community partners, the PHA provides and expands affordable housing and services that improve quality of life, build community, enhance safety, and promote personal success for the people we serve and the neighborhoods in which they reside.


About Avesta Housing

Avesta Housing is a nonprofit affordable housing provider with over 40 years of experience as a leader in affordable housing development and property management in southern Maine and New Hampshire. The organization is headquartered in Portland, Maine and currently has more than 80 properties and 2,000 apartments in its portfolio. Avesta’s mission is to improve lives and strengthen communities by promoting and providing quality affordable homes for people in need. Its five areas of focus are advocacy, development, property management, home ownership, and assisted living.

Sara Olson

Development & Communications Manager, Avesta Housing

National Low Income Housing Coalition Announces Election of New Executive Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) board of directors unanimously elected on May 19 the executive committee to lead the organization during the coming year.

The board elected Maine Affordable Housing Coalition (MAHC) Director Greg Payne to serve as chair of the board, replacing previous long-time chair, Brenda Clement, director of HousingWorks RI and former executive director of Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) in Massachusetts. Mr. Payne brings to the board many years of affordable housing advocacy with MAHC and affordable housing development with Avesta Housing in Maine. The NLIHC board expressed its deep gratitude to Brenda Clement for her many years of outstanding leadership of the organization.

National Low Income Housing Coalition

Maine developers seek ways to calm the neighbors about new projects

With growth often slowed by opposition, some of it NIMBYism, builders hope to head off resistance before it starts.

As head of a company that builds affordable housing, Dana Totman knows what it’s like to face neighborhood opposition to a proposed development.

Totman, president and CEO of Portland-based Avesta Housing, said a 2014 effort to build a senior housing project in Portland even resulted in threats to his family.

“One neighbor objected – viciously, vigorously,” Totman said. “He pointed out that he knew where my wife and I lived.”

Developers in Portland say that NIMBYism, the tendency of nearby residents to categorically reject any proposed development they deem unappealing, is a serious problem, especially in Portland.

J. Craig Anderson

Portland Press Herald

Portland’s homeless first in line for new housing

PORTLAND — Dawn Wade said she loves the practical element at her new home in Huston Commons.

“There is no more hurry up and wait, no line for the toilet, showers or lockers,” she said May 4.

Wade is one of 30 new residents at the 72 Bishop St. apartments built as a “housing first” project to create stability for chronically homeless tenants.

“This is a great opportunity; I’m glad to see so many people getting off the streets,” said Carl Boucher, who provides peer support for clients at Preble Street.

Wade was one of the first to move in after struggling for seven years to find stable housing.

Preble Street Associate Director Jon Bradley said the apartments are now 50 percent occupied, and will be filled this month.

The Forecaster

MEREDA announces 2016’s top real estate projects

The Maine Real Estate and Development Association, the state’s leading organization for commercial real estate, has selected the top 10 real estate developments from 2016.
It will present the awards at its annual spring conference, which will be May 18 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in South Portland.
The projects selected “exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to excellent jobs, increased tax revenues and Maine’s prominence as a lifestyle and vacation powerhouse,” Paul Peck, MEREDA board president and an attorney at Drummond & Drummond, said in the release.


More homeless escape streets as Portland opens 30 new apartments

Huston Commons is the city’s third ‘housing first’ facility, based on a national model that provides homes so people can then deal with factors contributing to their homelessness.

Joe Meyer, 62, sits in his new apartment at Huston Commons, Portland’s third “housing first” program for chronically homeless people. ““This is a life-changing type of thing,” he said. Staff photo by Brianna Soukup

In Joe Meyers’ new apartment, he has a potted succulent on the windowsill. He has a bed with a blue bedspread. He has shelves stocked with oatmeal and canned vegetables.

But his favorite part is the door.

“I can close the door and be left alone,” Meyers said. “This is a life-changing type of thing. I’m 62, but this is still a life-changing type of thing.”

Meyers has been homeless in Portland off and on for 17 years. He is one of 30 new tenants at Huston Commons, Portland’s third housing development for the chronically homeless. The apartment building is owned by Avesta Housing and run by Preble Street. All residents have been homeless for at least a year or had four episodes of homelessness within a three-year period, but many exceed those standards. One has spent 3,000 nights at the Oxford Street Shelter in Portland.

Megan Doyle

Portland Press Herald

If you build it, they will sleep soundly

LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — What started as a concern for low income families in her community, has spawned into a business for Amy Smith.
Through Healthy Homeworks, anyone who can’t afford to buy a bed can earn one by building it themselves. Each homemade solid wood bed frame comes with a mattress and an encasement that keeps bedbugs out.
There’s one catch: if you want a free bed, you have to work for it and help build other beds that can be sold to the general public. The program just started last year, but Smith is hoping to appeal to more downtown landlords.
“We just opened our doors in September and we had 17 builders by the end of the year,” said Smith. “In the first three months of this year we’re up to 30 people, and our waiting list is 30 more people.”

Amanda Hill


Push for 300 elms for town’s 300th continues

HAMPTON FALLS — Community members are embracing the idea of bringing more American elm trees back to Hampton Falls. The trees grew in abundance in town years ago before they succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease over a period of many decades.

Half a dozen of the majestic shade trees were planted in Hampton Falls in 2007, and now more than 100 trees are slated to be available for planting by spring of 2020.

Organizers of the campaign to restore this natural beauty in Hampton Falls, Larry Smith and Judy Wilson, are working to get as many as 300 elms gracing the town’s roadways in honor of the town’s 300th anniversary.

The order of 100 disease-resistant trees from the Elm Research Institute in Keene reduces the price of each tree to $40. The discounted order was made possible due to individual property owners becoming involved in the project, as well as the purchase of 25 trees by Heronfield Academy on Exeter Road, and 23 trees by Avesta Housing (Meadows at Grapevine Run) on Brown Road.

Nancy Rineman