A proposal to build two new apartment blocks in the Old Town has been approved by the city’s planning board despite resistance from some residents, paving the way for more housing in the Bangor area at a time when a shortage of affordable housing has emerged.
The two 12-unit buildings were approved after a two-year process in which developers encountered resistance at several stages.
The Old Town Planning Board has approved McPike LLC’s plans to build the apartments on plots from Wilson Streets to Lincoln Streets and Perkins Avenue adjacent to Perkins Avenue Park. The developers first came to the planning board in 2020 to ask that the zoning boundaries of the area be moved to include the land being considered for development.
At this first meeting in 2020, the developers, Tim McClary and Zachary Pike, encountered resistance from some members of the planning board, including Russell Sossong, who at the time was concerned about whether the development would benefit the community. region or city, from a tax point of view.
Initially, the project was smaller, but two years later the project grew to 24 units. Half would be one-bedroom apartments and the rest two-bedroom apartments.
During a presentation to the planning board on June 28, engineers working on the project faced questions and concerns about the traffic the new development might bring and whether the project would harm Regional School Unit 34 and to the pedestrian nature of the area.
Besides Perkins Avenue Park, Leonard Middle School and the school’s athletic fields are also nearby.
During the meeting, Sossong said the development would be game-changing for the region.
“It’s not nothing, it’s a big change in this neighborhood. Twenty-four units, 12 doubles and 12 singles – it’s not going to be all college pros,” he said.
A resident who spoke at the meeting said she was “shocked” to see the plans for the building.
“My beautiful home will no longer be my beautiful home and it’s very upsetting,” the woman said.
At the July 12 council meeting, the city’s Director of Economic Development and Old Town resident EJ Roach said there was a need for this type of housing in the Old Town and that development would be good for the city.
“The Old Town lacks housing,” Roach said. “Part of my job is to recruit companies and create jobs for the city and in those conversations they always ask, ‘Where are we going to live? And we are on the wrong side of the equation in the number of rental units and housing available.
Across the state, there is a lack of affordable housing as home values have skyrocketed and rents have risen.
Planning board chairman Ted Shina told the meeting that much of the rental housing available in Old Town needed upgrading. This new development promises to be of good quality and will add to much needed housing in the area, he said.
“It’s a quality development,” Shina said. “These are quality apartments.”
McClary, one of the developers, told residents at the June 28 meeting that he “will not rent to students” and aims to rent the units to young professionals.
Despite disputes over the lack of a traffic study and whether the project circumvents city or state laws requiring such a study, the council approved the development on July 12. The project is expected to be completed within the next five years.