FARMINGDALE — The owner of the former Sheldon Street School has downsized plans to convert the building into a senior residential project, citing the struggling economy.

“There’s not a whole lot of capital, particularly for speculation real estate,” said David Kinglsey, president of Maine Senior Care LLC.

Kingsley, who bought the building and about 6 acres of land that surround it in 2009, initially hoped to convert the school into a two-story housing complex for seniors. Plans called for a mix of rental units and owner-occupied condominiums, efficiencies, and one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. He paid $170,000 for the property.

He also bought the historic Bodwell House on Middle Street in Hallowell, which he had hoped to sell to acquire more capital for the senior housing project.

“I was going to sell that and use it, but it hasn’t sold,” he said.

Now, he plans to build 20 units on one floor at the old school, which has been gutted. The project is on track to be completed in 2013.

He’ll have to go before the Planning Board to get his new plans approved, but shouldn’t have trouble getting permits.

“I believe most of his permits should cover what he wants to do,” said Bill Longfellow, chairman of the Planning Board.

Kingsley said he will hold off spending $1 million with his new plans and will invest in construction of a second floor once he generates income. The 20 units will include independent apartments and Kingsley is looking into offering some affordable housing.

The entire project is estimated to cost $1.5 million and $2 million, he said.

The plans will enable Kingsley to use the building and existing roof with a porte-cochere at the entrance. He still plans to develop a community center in the former gymnasium that will anchor the end of the building.

Kingsley said the center will have a “true community and public aspect” to it, and will also serve residents who live in the building.

Kingsley operates the Captain Lewis House on U.S. Route 201, a residential care home for seniors with staff on duty 24 hours per day. He also owns the Stone House, an independent living home similar to a boarding home and Riverview Farm, which has three apartments for seniors, both next to the Captain Lewis House.

Resident Brian Skehan plans to build an extension of the Kennebec River Rail Trail through the fields of the old school to the Captain Lewis House.

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