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  • Peter Van Allen

Maine needs housing, and two significant projects unveiled this week

Originally published at the MaineBiz May 11, 2023, by Peter Van Allen.


JIM NEUGER Milliken Heights adds 55 apartments to the housing stock in Old Orchard Beach. Szanton Co. was the developer


Two significant additions to Maine's housing stock opened their doors this week.

In Lewiston, the nonprofit Raise-Op unveiled two buildings with a total of 18 housing units, while in Old Orchard Beach another 55 apartments came onto the market.


JIM NEUGER A kitchen in the 55-unit Milliken Heights.


The latter, Milliken Heights, was developed by Portland-based Szanton Co. The building's 55 one-bedroom apartments are aimed at mixed-income individuals age 55 and older.


The project cost was $15 million. Located at 38 Portland Ave. in Old Orchard Beach, 42 of the units are reserved for households earning below 60% of the area median income, costing $1,113. Market rent units are opening at $1,475.


At the opening of Milliken Heights, on Tuesday, May 9, speakers included Dan Brennan, director of MaineHousing; Heather Johnson, commissioner of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development; Shawn O’Neill, chair of the Old Orchard Beach Town Council; Bill Shanahan, co-president of Evernorth; state Rep. Lori Gramlich; and Liza Fleming-Ives, executive director of the Genesis Fund Community Loan Fund.


PHOTO / JIM NEUGER Daniel Brennan, director of MaineHousing; Nathan Szanton, president of the Szanton Co.; Amy Cullen, Szanton Co. vice president and project partner; Bobby Monks, Szanton Co. partner; and Liza Fleming-Ives, executive director of the Genesis Community Loan Fund. Photo taken at the opening of the Milliken Heights apartment building in Old Orchard Beach.


Lewiston adds 18 units in Tree Street neighborhood

Also on May 9, Raise-Op Housing Cooperative, a Lewiston nonprofit, cut the ribbon on two new buildings.


Each building has nine units. They were new builds on vacant lots in the Tree Street neighborhood, at 198 Blake St. and 84 Walnut St.


“We are very proud of this building design,” said Shaad Masood, president of the Raise-Op Housing Cooperative, which developed the new buildings. “This design began with leadership from our own residents, who envisioned the sustainable, durable, and beautiful homes that we are celebrating today. We want to share this design with the public so that others are inspired to develop their own sustainable homes and make our cities and towns more enjoyable for people of all incomes.”


RAISE-OP Raise-Op opens two buildings in Lewiston with a total of 18 housing units.

Raise-Op has launched a webpage where the public can learn more about the development, download building floor plans, and even request access to detailed architectural drawings.


“This can help lower some of the pre-development costs for others wishing to develop similar buildings," Masood said. "The housing crisis and the climate crisis affect us all, and we want to support the widespread creation of more affordable and low-energy homes as much as possible. Sharing information is important to achieve that.”


RAISE-OP The Raise-Op groundbreaking in Lewiston.


Passive house buildings use only a third of the energy, per square foot, of the average home in Maine, said Evan Carroll, principal architect for the project.


This is the first certified passive house building in all of Androscoggin County and the 15th certified passive house apartment building in all of Maine, according to passivhaus Maine.


“With passive house design principles, you have both a very tight building envelope, as well as energy recovery ventilation, so that each apartment has its own supply of fresh air all day long, no matter the season. This insulation also helps provide more safety and comfort for residents in terms of sound insulation, odor and pest reduction, and added fire safety," Carroll said.


The project includes solar panels on the roof that generate half of the building’s energy needs over the course of the year. All of these design elements help to reduce the carbon footprint of the building, as well as lower the operating costs to keep the homes affordable for the residents, who must be low-income to qualify for the units.


Maine has 21 school and university buildings and dozens of single-family homes that are passive house-certified. As of 2021, there were roughly 2,000 Passive House projects certified nationwide.


Hebert Construction managed the project.


“Being a passive house project, this project brings efficiency to a whole new level,” said Tim Mancine, the construction manager for Hebert, who oversaw the construction of the buildings. “The buildings require a high level of attention to detail when it comes to air sealing with every possible gap, crack, and open space sealed. It’s the tightest building envelope I’ve ever seen constructed. Our blower door tests showed almost no air leakage out of the building.”


Project partners:

  • Raise-Op, developer, project sponsor, resident services

  • Evernorth, syndicator

  • MaineHousing, financing

  • Hebert Construction, construction manager

  • Build Architecture, design

  • Lewiston Housing, property manager

  • Community Concepts Inc.

  • City of Lewiston

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