AUGUSTA — A proposal to help the Augusta Housing Authority build 34 units of affordable housing is up for a vote by city councilors Thursday.

The authority is asking the city to lease it land for the proposed six-building project at no cost and grant a tax deal. The proposed development, which housing authority officials have said would be targeted at working people, would be built on the city-owned Kennebec Lockes property, the former site of the Statler paper mill.

Neighbors of the site — especially those on Maple Street, which would be used for access to the housing development — have spoken out against the proposal as potentially disruptive to their quiet neighborhood and as a development that could prevent other, more desirable, development from happening on the riverside property.

The housing authority, which is independent of the city, would build the 34 apartments on about 3 acres, on the southern end and toward the rear, nonriverside portion of the nearly mile-long, 20-acre property that the city acquired in 2009 for nonpayment of taxes.

Amanda Bartlett, the housing authority’s executive director, told councilors last week the authority needs the land for the site at no, or very little, cost. The authority also is seeking a tax increment financing, or TIF, deal with the city to help fund the cost of the project using affordable housing tax credits.

“Augusta Housing Authority has very limited resources, which is why we came to the council for a TIF and a lease,” Bartlett said. “If we don’t get either of those things, the project won’t go forward anyway, because it won’t be viable.”

After a public hearing, councilors are scheduled to vote on both proposals. City Manager William Bridgeo noted that if councilors support one, they’ll likely also support the other.

“If the council supports putting this project on this site, then you would be willing to provide the land to make it happen,” Bridgeo told councilors when they discussed the proposal last week. “It really comes down to whether the council considers this the right project, in the right place, at the right time.”

In a memorandum to councilors, Bridgeo recommends they authorize him to work with the housing authority and the city attorney to create a draft lease, which would come back to the council for its approval.

The property is not taxed now because the city owns it. The housing authority, a nonprofit corporation, normally also would not be charged property taxes if it owned the property. However, a TIF is necessary, Bartlett has said, both to help bring funding for the project and to help an application for tax credits score well enough to be selected in a highly competitive process for affordable housing projects.

The housing authority would form a for-profit entity for the project, to be eligible for tax credits, then seek to sell those tax credits to provide around $4.7 million of the estimated $6 million project cost.

Councilors are expected to meet at 7 p.m. Thursday in the council chamber at Augusta City Center to vote on the proposals. Councilors are also scheduled to:

• Consider discontinuing a portion of Wade Street, west of Sewall Street, to help make way for a proposed new office building, which will be built on the site of the former state Department of Transportation maintenance facility and leased to the state for offices;

• Consider adopting changes to city administrative regulations; and

• Meet in a closed-door session with the Augusta Board of Education to discuss labor negotiations.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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