AUGUSTA — Plans to build nine upscale apartments on the third floors of interconnected buildings in downtown Augusta are progressing with five tenants committed and the project going to the Planning Board for approval Tuesday.

William Guerrette III, who is overseeing the project for his family’s real estate company, Smithtown Four LLC, managed by Guerrette Properties, said the group already has one tenant living in the first finished unit in the apartments being built on the third floors of buildings at 221 to 239 Water Street. Another unit is almost done and the company has commitments from four other tenants to take rental units as they are completed.

“At this point we’re ready to move forward with the remaining seven units, given the demand,” Guerrette said Monday. “Construction is never fun, but we’re seeing the light now, as we’re turning the corner.”

The project’s developers had building permits from the city to construct two units, Guerrette said.

Before the remaining units can be occupied, however, the project needs a “Major Subdivision” permit from the city. It is being reviewed as a subdivision — a review more typically reserved for plots of land being divided into smaller lots to be sold off — because of a quirk in state law, according to Matt Nazar, development director for the city.

Nazar said under state subdivision law whenever previously commercial space is converted into residential space for three or more units it is considered to be a subdivision and reviewed as such unless a more stringent local regulation applies to the project. Nazar said the city’s requirements for a project to undergo a more-stringent Major Development Review were not triggered by the redevelopment project, so it will be reviewed under state law as a subdivision.

“So we’re stuck with subdivision law, which is awkward, because it is existing space,” Nazar said. “But we’ve done that with other buildings. The Parkhursts went through the same process.”

The Parkhursts, Richard and son Tobias, have also developed more upscale apartments on Water Street in recent years.

The space being converted by Guerrette to apartments, which is to be named Riverview Terrace, was previously used for offices.

The apartments would all be on the third floor, with commercial space below. Currently, the law firm Lipman Katz and bank Bar Harbor Bank & Trust are on the ground floor of the development.

The developers, in permit application materials filed with the city, state they believe the project “will represent one of the finest mixed-use projects in Augusta and will further efforts to redevelop the downtown district.”

The estimated $600,000 project could eventually include converting the sub-basement of the structure into indoor parking spaces, though that would be part of a separate permitting process. For now, tenants are expected to park in Augusta Parking District surrounding parking spaces.

Guerrette said overall the project is “a little behind where we hoped we’d be, but not a lot.”

“It can be quite complicated for a guy like me who has never done a subdivision permit before, but city staff has been very helpful” walking the developer through the process, Guerrette said. “I’m really looking forward to the day when it is a place where people live. It’s going to be a nice community where people can live, not just a construction project.”

He said one unit should be ready to rent next week, another two weeks after that, and yet another two weeks after that. Most of the units just need finish work.

Plans for the project include a shared rooftop terrace and balconies with views of the Kennebec River, a fitness room, and loft-style apartments with restored wood floors, custom tiles, stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.

The Planning Board meets to review the project at 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Planners are also scheduled to hold public hearings regarding:

• a conditional use application from Annalee Morris-Polley and AMMA LLC to change a non-conforming use to another non-conforming use at 841 Riverside Drive, allowing the property, currently used as the site of social and medical services, to instead be used as a retail store, selling used household and office furniture and accessories;

• a Minor Subdivision review of the application of Lapointe/St. Onge Development LLC to create a four-lot subdivision off North Belfast Avenue and Bolton Hill Road;

• and a conditional use review of Marshall Leavitt and Matthew Swift’s proposal to change 2 State St. from one non-conforming use to another. The pair plan to convert a former glass repair shop into an automotive repair shop.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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