Portland, MAINE, June 14, 2013 – Avesta Housing on Monday celebrated the grand opening of Pearl Place II, a 54-apartment affordable housing community in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood.
With the opening of Pearl Place II, Avesta marked the culmination of a nearly decade-long plan to build at least 100 new housing units in the Bayside neighborhood at the site of a former plumbing warehouse.
“This is an important component of the revitalization of the Bayside neighborhood, and it complements other plans the city has,” said Portland Mayor Michael Brennan. Mayor Brennan also talked about the success of the city’s partnership with Preble Street to find housing for those living in homeless shelters. “It is possible for us to find a solution to the very difficult problem of homelessness, and Avesta is creating other opportunities for people in Portland.”
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree highlighted the importance of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, which helped build these new homes for families and created good-paying jobs through the design and construction of the project. “This significant investment in Bayside is exactly the kind of thing we need to have going on,” she said.
MaineHousing Director John Gallagher talked about the collaboration that it took to bring Pearl Place II to fruition. “Many hands touched this project along the way.”
Pearl Place II resident Isaac Bujambi also addressed the crowd, sharing his story of coming to Maine as a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Isaac, his wife and their four children fled persecution in the Congo in 2004 and lived in a refugee camp, where they experienced death and unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Isaac came to the United States in 2007, and his family was able to join him in 2010. “It’s a great joy to find ourselves living in this beautiful building, Pearl Place II,” he said. “It’s very nice; we like it here.”
Avesta also presented the 2013 Mike Yandell award to John Ryan, president of Wright-Ryan Construction, which constructed Pearl Place II. The Mike Yandell award is given annually to a person or organization for extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing. “I am deeply honored to accept this award,” he said. “Avesta’s breadth and depth of vision is really unusual in the state, and they’ve made a tremendous contribution to affordable housing in southern Maine.”
In his closing remarks, Dana Totman, president of Avesta Housing, thanked the numerous people and organizations that contributed to Pearl Place II, including: the design team — PDT Architects, Wright-Ryan Construction, Becker Structural Engineers, Bennett Engineering, Woodard and Curran, Carroll Associates, Horizon Engineering, Thornton Tomasetti, SW Cole, Sparhawk Group, Northeast Civil Solutions — the Bayside Neighborhood Association, construction lender TD Bank, equity partner Boston Capital, NeighborWorks, city officials, Curtis Thaxter and Otis Atwell.
Pearl Place II has one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments for households making 50% and 60% of the area median income. The property also has a number of green features, including solar panels to heat domestic hot water, high-efficiency condensing boilers and an energy recovery ventilation system.
Residents began moving into Pearl Place II in January. Property amenities include free wireless Internet, onsite laundry, bicycle storage, a community room with a kitchenette, 24-hour emergency maintenance and a resident service coordinator.
For more about Pearl Place II, visit http://www.avestahousing.org/properties/64/Pearl-Place-II.