By Laura Dolce
March 05, 2009 2:00 AM
KENNEBUNK — Park Street School may need to wait a little longer to become low-income elderly housing. That's because Avesta Housing's Park Street School project wasn't one of those approved for low-income housing tax credit for 2009.
"There were 18 applications and five were funded," said Evan Boxer-Macomber, a project director for Avesta. "We're first on the waiting list."
The funds, distributed by the Maine State Housing Authority, are crucial to the plan to convert the Park Street School into 30 housing units. Avesta had requested $475,152 from MSHA and while it wasn't approved, Boxer-Macomber said all is not lost. With stimulus funds soon becoming available, he said, it's still possible the Park Street project will be funded.
Dan Simpson, a spokesman for MSHA, said his agency is still unsure of how stimulus funds will affect the project.
"We're waiting for some guidance from HUD and he IRS on how the money is to be used," he said.
That gives Boxer-Macomber reason to be hopeful.
"I think we're still in pretty good shape for this year," he said. And if not, Avesta plans to reapply for 2010.
Boxer-Macomber said a petition calling for the town to hold onto the Park Street School property didn't affect the project's eligibility or consideration for funding.
"There was absolutely no connection at all," he said.
Town Manager Barry Tibbetts concurred, saying distribution of funds is at best postponed until next year.
"It's a competitive process," he said. "But they will definitely get it next time."
Boxer-Macomber said other projects might have been more appealing this time around because they had already been through the planning board process, while the Park Street project had not. That process should begin in the spring, maybe as soon as April, he said.
To that end, he's already met with Town Planner Judy Bernstein to start the ball rolling.
Boxer-Macomber said the delay in funding could push the groundbreaking back from this fall to the spring of 2010, but that no matter when it starts, the end result will be the same.
"We're going to do a really beautiful job in there," he said. "The need for quality, affordable housing in the Kennebunk area remains very, very high."