SACO, Maine – Avesta Housing on Sept. 26 celebrated the grand opening of Cascade Brook, a new, 30-apartment affordable community in Saco for residents 55 and older. Local and state leaders, as well as key funders of the project, offered their remarks on the importance of affordable senior housing for the Saco area and the state. Guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and locally made apple cider, and were able to tour two of the available apartments. Neal Allen, chairman of the Avesta board of directors, served as master of ceremonies for the event.
The highlight of the event was hearing from Cascade Brook resident Sheila Drouin, who shared her emotional story of having to sell her home and move to Cascade Brook. “I’m very fortunate to be here, and very thankful to be here. My husband has been ill the last six years, and it got to the point where he was so sick he nearly passed away, and I had to retire and take care of him. And I just did it, and afterward, I thought, now what? I couldn’t afford the house…and it was too much work to take care of the house and him.”
Sheila was able to sell her Saco home and move into a more affordable and convenient apartment in September. “It’s so great to know there is a place like this, because it’s very hard to find affordable housing,” she said. “If you can do any more of these projects, I’m telling you they will be more than welcome.”
Sheila Drouin shares why living at Cascade Brook is important for her and her husband
Rick Michaud, Saco city administrator, called Cascade Brook “a great start” to the planned Cascade Falls development. “The fact that this rented up so fast speaks to the need for this kind of development in Saco. Thank you for picking Saco and helping us meet our housing needs.”
Joanne Sullivan, vice president and director of government and community relations for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, spoke of the long relationship the bank has had with Avesta and highlighted the economic impact of the bank’s Affordable Housing Program: for every $1 million the program invests, $14.2 million is spent to build or rehabilitate housing, which generates a total $27.6 million economic impact. “We’re really glad to be involved,” she said.
Peter Merrill, acting director of MaineHousing, spoke of the importance of taking time to celebrate achievements such as the completion of Cascade Brook, and of giving recognition to the many people who contributed their time and effort to the project. “The fact is, without getting trite, it really does take an enormous number of people” to build a project like Cascade Brook. “We could talk all afternoon about the people who made this happen, and I think it’s important to do that.”
Chris Emmons, president of Gorham Savings Bank, a financial partner with Avesta on the project, also talked about the “community effort” to get the project completed. “This is a great opportunity and a great way to showcase the city and what’s taking place here,” he said. “And for the residents, we couldn’t be happier for them and their wonderful community that will be enjoyed for many years.”
Bill Shanahan from the Northern New England Housing Investment Fund, another important financial partner, talked about the growing challenges to programs that help fund affordable housing projects. “I’d like everyone here to remember this celebration when there’s a challenge to housing resources, and remember the good work done here by everyone,” he said.
Dana Totman, president of Avesta, finished the program by sharing the at times tumultuous history of the project, which took five years to go from concept to completed building. Funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was funneled to MaineHousing, as well as a state bond approved by the Legislature, provided the key funding to allow the project to move ahead. Dana paid tribute to Avesta’s 40-year history, which began with its first development in Saco. “If we can all commit ourselves to another 40 years of building developments like this, I think the state will be a much better place.”
Avesta leaders also thanked Elliot Chamberlain of Chamberlain Homes, the developer behind Cascade Falls, the planned development of which Cascade Brook is just one piece, general contractor Landry French Construction, CWS Architects, the city of Saco and law firm Curtis Thaxter for their roles in the project.
Following the remarks, Cascade Brook resident Stephanie Bekasi cut the ribbon to officially mark the completion of the property.
Cascade Brook is a new, energy-efficient apartment building for people 55 and older who make 50% to 60% of the area median income, or up to $28,560 for one person and $32,640 for two people. The building, located on newly constructed Dawn Marie Drive off Route 1, features an on-site laundry room and hair salon, Internet access, storage room, community gardens and a large community room with a gas fireplace and flat-screen TV (where residents gather nightly to watch the news). Rents are $637 (50% AMI) and $765 (60% AMI) for a one-bedroom and $765 and $918 for a two-bedroom. For more on the property, visit http://www.avestahousing.org/property-development/new-properties/cascade-brook.
Contact: Mindy Woerter, Communications Manager
(207) 553-7780, ext. 212; cell: 632-0696