GARDINER — Kevin Bunker has been familiar with Gardiner for a number of years.

Bunker, part of the Portland-based Developers Collaborative, has done some work for Johnson Hall and spent time in Gardiner when he and his wife were still dating.

So he put that knowledge to work when his company, Developers Collaborative, submitted qualifications to be considered to redevelop parcels of the blighted T.W. Dick property.

Developers Collaborative signaled its desire to develop one of the T.W. Dick parcels into affordable senior housing.

“What made us a really good development team to respond is that we’re one of the only groups that does senior housing and medical buildings,” Bunker said Tuesday.

Wednesday Bunker will talk to Gardiner city councilors about affordable senior housing.

“We thought it would be helpful to have a conversation at this time about what it means to have affordable senior housing,” Gardiner City Manager Scott Morelli said. “Kevin has experience with it, and he’s a good person to talk about it. We want to get the council thinking about what they want to see happen.”

In December, city officials decided to start negotiations with Developers Collaborative in a series of transactions that will result in a new medical arts building that is expected to be home to a future MaineGeneral Health facility, replacing the current facility on Dresden Avenue. The Gardiner City Council will take up several related items Wednesday that, if approved, will move the project forward, including approving the sale of two parcels to Developers Collaborative and accepting brownfields cleanup funds for three of the four T.W. Dick parcels that require remediation.

Long before this project was contemplated, Gardiner officials have been working to add more senior housing. The city’s 2014 comprehensive plan highlighted senior housing as a priority. Even so, Gardiner Assessor Curt Lebel said the bulk of residential construction from 2003 to 2015 in the city was for single-family homes and mobile homes.

In many ways, Morelli said, the T.W. Dick property meets many criteria that make it attractive for consideration as a site for senior housing. It’s close to Gardiner’s downtown, a grocery store, a pharmacy and transportation. But, he added, the site could accommodate other housing options, too.

From Bunker’s perspective, the need for senior housing is clear.

“Maine is the oldest state in the nation, and it has the oldest housing stock,” he said. “It’s a huge demographic.”

State residents also have identified it as a priority, evidenced by the votes in support of a $15 million bond issue for affordable senior housing.

Gardiner, he said, has a great downtown and a lot of potential.

“People want to age in place and stay in their communities,” he said. “When that dynamic is present, it’s great.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ


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