By Sean Murphy
January 25, 2012
WESTBROOK – A regional nonprofit affordable housing company has acquired key credits from the state housing authority, clearing the way for a new development project to occupy former church buildings in Westbrook that have stood empty for years.
Avesta Housing, based in Portland, is planning to renovate two buildings once used by St. Hyacinth Church, turning both into complexes offering one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments to lower-income families, according to Deborah Keller, director of programs at Avesta.
“We’re still very, very early in the process,” Keller said.
The Roman Catholic Church once used the two buildings as a school and a parish center and convent for the Brown Street parish, but in 2005, the church consolidated St. Hyacinth with two other churches in the city, St. Edmund and St. Mary, under a new parish named St. Anthony of Padua Parish, which it still uses today.
As part of the consolidation, the church closed down the St. Edmund and St. Mary buildings, and put the former St. Hyacinth school and center/convent buildings up for sale. A recent drop in the $3 million asking price has made it more attractive to Avesta.
“We’ve had our eye on it for a while,” Keller said, noting the property is right next to Steeple Square, another complex Avesta owns and operates.