WATERVILLE — The Planning Board on Monday will consider plans for St. Francis Apartments, a low income senior housing project at 52 Elm St.

The three-story complex with 40 one-bedroom units on 1.94 acres would be built on the corner of Winter and Elm streets after St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church is demolished.

Another 18 units would be added later as funding becomes available, according to Mike Hebert, facilities manager for Corpus Christi Parish, which owns the property.

“It (construction of additional 18 units) definitely will be a few years down the road,” Hebert said Friday.

Hebert said if the board approves the plans, the church, rectory and church hall would be torn down.

“I really don’t think it’ll be until late summer — August, September,” he said.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at The Center downtown. City Planner Ann Beverage said the board will probably not vote on the preliminary plans until the May 21 meeting.

The 137-year-old, 21,388-square-foot church complex was for sale for more than three years before a decision was made to turn it into housing.

The need to raze the church and affiliated buildings was driven by several factors, including a shortage of priests, heating costs and the cost of plowing and sanding, Hebert said earlier this year.

The 1871 church initially had a capacity for 600 people, which was increased to 1,000 when side galleries were added in 1888, according to the Corpus Christi website.

Another renovation between 1964 and 1969 included dismantling the side galleries and replacing the original stained glass windows with the current ones depicting the Twelve Apostles.

Hebert said when the project plans are approved, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland’s Bureau of Housing will buy the property from the parish and get the mortgage through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. A separate corporation has been set up, called St. Francis Apartments, Inc., for the apartment complex.

That corporation is not actually a diocesan property, Hebert said.

He said the plan got initial approval for the project from HUD, and must get a final commitment from the department on the design and cost for the project.

The housing would be open to everyone — not just Catholics — because it will be federally funded. Tenants would pay a percentage of their income based on HUD standards.

Hebert said efforts will be made to incorporate some of the church’s items, including the stained glass windows, into the complex.

“We’re going to see if we can salvage the bell area of the steeple and put it on the lawn as a gazebo,” he said.

Beverage said planners at Tuesday’s public meeting will make suggestions for changes to the housing unit plans, if they have any.

Neighbors to the property also may comment.

She said that all neighbors whose property touches the property and those who live across the street are invited to comment.

A draft of the plan is on the city’s website, waterville-me.gov, under City Departments and Services. Click on Planning Department and then agendas and backup materials to view the plans.

CWS Architects, of Portland, which is working on the project, will be on hand Tuesday, Beverage said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

 


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