Maine residents finance subdivision of single-family homes for elderly

April 26, 1992|By New York Times News Service

CUMBERLAND, Maine -- Residents in this affluent suburb north of Portland do more than talk about the need for affordable housing. They are building it for the elderly and helping finance a subdivision where single-family homes will sell for $85,000 to $95,000.

The town spent about $1.6 million for the rights to build a 40-unit garden-style rental for the elderly on property that was to have been the second phase of a condominium complex.

It also lent the developer, George R. Rickley, $350,000 and eased zoning so that he could build 49 houses in a wooded subdivision he will call Small's Brook Crossing.

All this from a town whose average home price, said Carla A. Nixon, the town planner, is about $230,000.

"Cumberland has had among the highest median home prices in the region," said Ms. Nixon. "Meanwhile, the average per-capita income of our residents is about $17,000. This is a town where town employees and many residents' children can't afford

live."

To create housing for the elderly, Cumberland bought eight vacant acres abutting the bankrupt 40-unit, garden-style Cumberland Meadows.

The town promised to fix the project's drainage and erosion problems when it bought the vacant land.

It also secured a $400,000 low-interest loan from the state's Housing Authority, a $1.6 million loan through a general obligation bond and $30,000 in grants to build the project.

The project is scheduled to be completed in July and the town plans to rent the apartments for $390 for one-bedroom units and $675 for two-bedrooms.

Preference will be given to current or former residents, Ms. Nixon said, but anyone can apply to live there. The town already has 70 applicants.

While work on the housing for the elderly pushed ahead, Cumberland officials asked Mr. Rickley, owner of Casco Partners, to build an affordable project with help from the town.

Mr. Rickley agreed to build Cape Cods, split-levels, ranches and colonials with basements, gravel driveways and no garages for families with average incomes of about $33,000. The site is 52 acres.

Each home will be on a third of an acre. After construction is completed, Mr. Rickley will deed the undeveloped 33 acres of open space to the town.

In addition to Cumberland's $350,000 loan, Mr. Rickley has lined up a $900,000 loan from the Casco Northern Bank. He said he never would have been able to obtain bank financing without the town's participation.

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