Kennebunk, Maine [November 2008]- Avesta Housing celebrated the grand opening of Cousens School Apartments with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, October 29, 2008. Attended by many former students and staff of Cousens School, the event celebrated the renovation of the former school into 28 affordable apartments.
"So many old schools in Kennebunk have transitioned into other uses that now provide vital functions for the town," said Wayne Berry, Chair of the Board of Selectmen. He congratulated Avesta on the thought and quality that went into the redevelopment of Cousens School.
"This project is the fifth time Avesta has recycled an old school into affordable housing," said Dana Totman, President of Avesta Housing, noting several more projects are in the works. He said the location and layout of schools make them amenable to housing. "By redeveloping the school to green construction standards, reusing an existing building, and putting housing close to downtowns, Cousens School exemplifies smart growth," he said.
Representing MaineHousing, Peter Merrill recognized Avesta for "its values of conservation, reuse, and quality workmanship". Bill Shanahan, Vice President of Northern New England Housing Investment Fund said, "The adage 'many hands make light work' comes to mind and certainly it was the work of many that creat ed this very successful project. And now when we see how pleased tenants are with their new homes, the work feels a little lighter."
A new resident of Cousens School told how she had to leave her parents and siblings and move from Kennebunk in 2007, but promised her children they would return. "Having these apartments available has help ed me keep my promise to them," she said.
In 2005, the Town of Kennebunk select ed Avesta Housing to r edevelop the Cousens School. The result is the preservation of the historic 1934 structure and the addition of a new wing. The project was designed by Ben Walters of CWS Architects and was built by HL Patten Construction. The team worked carefully to respect the original building. Artwork in the building was provid ed by students from Kennebunk Elementary School.
Avesta began accepting new residents at Cousens School in September 2008 and is currently filling apartments. Funding was provid ed by MaineHousing, USDA Rural Development, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, Northern New England Housing Investment Fund, TD Banknorth, and Gorham Savings Bank