Project provides affordable homeownership opportunities on Portland’s Munjoy Hill
Portland, MAINE – Avesta Housing on Thursday celebrated the grand opening of the Adams School Condominiums on Portland’s Munjoy Hill. The project transformed a blighted site into 16 townhouse-style condos affordable to families with lower-to-moderate incomes, as well as a public park and playground.
Built on the site of the former Marada Adams School, the Adams School Condos provided long-term affordable homeownership opportunities on Munjoy Hill, where rising property values are pricing people out of the community. Eligible buyers were households earning no more than 120% of area median income, or roughly less than $64,200 for one person and $73,350 for a two-person household. The condos were completed in July 2013 and all units were sold by July 2014.
State and city officials, project partners, neighbors and Adams School Condo owners joined Avesta to celebrate the culmination of the project. Avesta Board Chair Drew Sigfridson served as the event’s MC.
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan told the crowd that the city’s population has actually shrunk since 1950. “In order for us to continue to grow and become the city we want to be, we need to have more housing,” he said. “It’s great to support this project that created affordable homeownership for middle-income people who are critical to the future of this city.”
Senate President Justin Alfond, who represents much of the city of Portland, highlighted the important partnerships needed to make the Adams School Condos a reality. “Projects like this elevate the city on a national stage,” he said.
Deborah Johnson, director of the Office of Community Development for the Department of Economic and Community Development, talked about the $2.3 million in funding the DECD provided to the project from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program. NSP is a federal grant program established to stabilize communities following the economic crisis of 2008. “This property was a blight in the neighborhood and a detriment, and now it is an incredible asset owned by private individuals,” she said.
Dan Haley, the co-chair of the Adams School Reuse Committee, told the crowd about the community-led process that guided the development of the site, and his hope that more units can eventually be built at the site. “It’s always been a great neighborhood – now it’s an even better one thanks to this project.”
Kate Neale, president of the Adams School Condo Association, talked about the legacy of Marada Adams, who was once recognized as the oldest teacher in years of service in the United States. She also highlighted the association’s goal that the residents become an integral piece of the Munjoy Hill Community, and the volunteer work that the condo owners have undertaken. “I believe Ms. Adams would be especially pleased at a children’s playground still carrying her name,” she said.
One of the condo owners, Michie O’Day, addressed the group next. She shared her reasons for relocating from Stonington to Portland, as a medical condition required her to live in a more accessible home and walkable neighborhood. “I love my view of the park, the proximity to the Eastern Prom, and all the shops and restaurants on Congress Street,” she said. She especially likes being able to see a glimpse of the ocean in the winter, which reminds her of her home in Stonington.
Lastly, Seth Parker, director of real estate development for Avesta Housing, thanked a number of important project partners: general contractor Great Falls Construction; the design team of PDT Architects, Regina Leonard, Becker Structural, Bennett Engineering, Woodard & Curran and Credere Associates; Cito Selinger and Amy Devin of Curtis Thaxter; construction lender Bangor Savings Bank; Realtor Rita Yarnold; Bill Burney and the Maine office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development; the Portland City Council and city staff; David Stolt, Avesta’s Home Ownership Services Manager. The Genesis Community Loan Fund financed Avesta’s acquisition of the site.