Farmington, ME, Jun 06, 2013 -- Ground was broken today in Farmington on one of Maine’s first net zero multi-family housing apartment buildings, marking the beginning of construction on a new 32 one-bedroom apartment complex that will provide affordable housing for elderly persons 62 and older. The complex is being built on the former site of the Maine Dowell Mill on Fairbanks Road. In May of 2010, a market study showed the need for 307 additional deep-subsidy apartments for seniors in the Farmington area.
The two-story building, Brookside Village Affordable Senior Housing, will have a geothermal heating system and 228 solar electric panels on roof. The solar photovoltaic system is designed to provide surplus electricity back to the grid during the summer building a credit that will pay for electricity used during the winter months when the solar power is less effective and usage is higher. These energy generation systems of the building along with other green building features will qualify the property for five different Green Building certifications including; LEED, Energy Star, Challenge Home, Green Communities, and MaineHousing, and qualify it as a net zero building, using no fossil fuels and relying completely on renewable sources.
USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, “I am pleased USDA Rural Development can provide vital funding to invest in one of Maine’s first net zero multi-family housing properties, supporting renewable energy efforts while providing a quality and affordable homes for many of the area seniors in need of housing.”
USDA Rural Development provided $1 million in loan funds through its Rural Rental Housing Program for the construction of Brookside Village and will continue to help the seniors to make their rent payments, through ongoing Rental Assistance for all 32 units. Other essential funding partners are MaineHousing, Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, and Boston Capital. The planning and development of the project was financed by the Franklin Savings Bank and construction period financing is being provided by Bangor Savings Bank. It is expected that the building will be completed in one year.
Farmington Land, LLC owned by Byron (Buzz) Davis and William (Bill) Marceau has owned the former mill site for the past eight years. When acquired the site was littered with piles of wood waste and scrap metal that had been collected by a previous owner and the top floor of the main factory building had been destroyed by fire. The massive clean-up of the property that followed took over a year to complete with much of the materials being recycled or reused, including the recycling of 217 tons of metal and 412 tons of wood chips that were sent to a biomass plant in Livermore.
The building was designed by AMEC in Portland, and Pinkham and Greer of Falmouth were the civil engineers who designed the site improvements. H. E. Callahan Construction Co. of Auburn has been awarded the building construction project after winning the competitive bid. E. L. Vining and Son of Farmington have been awarded the public infrastructure project funded by a Community Development Block Grant to the Town of Farmington that will construct utility services, drainage improvements and a new road to the site.
One of the benefits of the self-sufficient energy system at Brookside Village is that the cost of heat, hot water and electricity for each of the apartments is included in the rents. The rent contribution by each tenant will also be limited to 30% of their household income as a result of the Rental Assistance provided by USDA Rural Development. This is very important for the tenants who must meet certain income limits in order to be eligible for this housing. Brookside Village will also offer walking trails around a small pond and wetland that will be shared with the Willow Springs Retirement Community. Eventually, Brookside Village plans to have raised planting beds and perhaps a gazebo for residents to enjoy. The site is also adjacent to a working farm and the Powder House Hill Recreational Trail system.
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