KENNEBUNK — Avesta Housing is planning to break ground later this month on an $8 million project converting the former Park Street School into senior housing.
If all goes well, officials with the Portland-based nonprofit developer expect the new 30 affordable apartments will be ready for occupancy by August 2012.
"Adding accessible downtown energy-efficient affordable apartments for seniors greatly helps get our housing stock more in line with what is needed and wanted," said Dana Totman, president of Avesta.
This has been a busy summer for Avesta, which has affordable housing projects under way in Portland, Saco, Standish, Biddeford and Kennebunk. The company operates more than 1,600 housing units in southern Maine, most of which are classified as affordable housing.
Avesta first proposed converting the 89-year-old school building at 14 Park St. into housing in 2008, but funding delays pushed back the project.
Deb Keller, Avesta's development director, said the company is combining a variety of state and federal funding sources to make the project happen.
"Funding for the project will come from Low Income Housing Tax Credit, Federal Tax Credit Assistance Program (from the Federal Stimulus in 2009), Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives, State Rehabilitation of Historic Properties Tax Credit, and USDA Rural Development 515 loan and ongoing Rental Assistance," Keller said in an e-mail.
As proposed, the 2.5-story brick portion of the former school will be preserved, while a newer "lower quality" addition behind the structure will be torn down. In its place, Avesta will build a two-story wing that connects with the brick building, according to Totman.
Avesta, which also developed the Bethesda Housing complex and renovated the Cousens School into family apartments, already has town approvals to renovate Park Street School.
Although the company is not yet accepting applications for the senior housing units, there has been plenty of interest.
"We do have an interest list going for the project with 77 households currently on it," Keller said. "We will start collecting formal applications in April 2012."
She added that "there are a few families that call us every couple of months to check on the status, as they've been following the process for years and are really desperate to get in."
The school itself, which was replaced by Kennebunk Elementary School, was built in 1921 in the "Colonial Revival" style with additions in 1954 and 1962, according to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. The school is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.