GARDINER — The developer of two proposed housing projects has the tax increment financing needed to push forward to seek funding to pay for them, but the final approval is still months away.

On Wednesday, the Gardiner City Council approved a deal that would shelter the increased value to the city from these projects if they are built. For the 30-year life of the agreement, half of the sheltered value would be paid to the developer to pay the operating costs of the housing complexes, and the city would retain the other half to be dedicated to Gardiner’s share of the School Administrative District 11’s educational assessment.

“This is an exciting possibility,” Mayor Thom Harnett said. If approved, it would create housing for older Gardiner residents who might want to give up the responsibility and cost of taking care of their homes and yards but who want to remain in Gardiner.

“We’re also in a situation where we want to develop employment opportunities at companies like Central Maine Meats and Common Wealth Poultry and the hard cider operation,” Harnett said. “People want to work there, and they need places to live.”

Developers Collaborative, the firm that wants to build affordable senior housing and affordable workforce housing on two blighted parcels on Summer Street, plans to seek tax credit financing from the Maine Housing Authority. That funding decision is expected to come at the end of the year, said Kevin Bunker, of Developers Collaborative.

The company sought this deal to improve its projects’ score with the housing authority because it’s an indication of the city’s willingness to take part in the development.


In a brief presentation to the council, Bunker said long before his company had submitted its interest in developing a medical arts building at 1 Summer St., he had been interested in one of four parcels formerly owned by T.W. Dick Co. for an affordable senior housing project.

A shift in funding priorities at the Maine State Housing Authority now indicates that workforce housing proposals will score higher in competitive funding considerations, Bunker said. So in his proposal, he has scaled back the planned senior housing and added the affordable workforce housing component to the project.

“I know there isn’t a guarantee (of funding), but I am taking the risk,” he said. He has secured the services of a civil engineering firm to put together the housing proposals to go before the Gardiner Planning Board, which meets Aug. 9 for public hearings and site plan and subdivision reviews.

The senior housing project is expected to be 28 units in a four-story building on the 24 Summer St. parcel. Workforce housing units would be built at both 24 and 59 Summer St., with 10 units in a pair of two-story buildings at 24 Summer St. and five units in a two-story building at 59 Summer St. The projects also include parking.

Under the agreement, city officials removed the parcels from the existing downtown TIF district and put them in a new affordable housing TIF district.

If the housing deal fails to secure tax credit funding, no increased value on those parcels would be generated and no TIF funds would go to either Developers Collaborative or the city.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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