The proposed Gardiner Green development is being proposed for this former MaineGeneral property on Dresden Avenue. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file Buy this Photo

GARDINER — The developer of a proposed redevelopment in Gardiner of the former hospital property on Dresden Avenue has scaled back the scope of his project.

At a meeting with the Gardiner Planning Board on Tuesday, Paul Boghossian said he anticipates building 51 units — 34 in the old hospital building and 17 in three other buildings on the site — if he can secure approval from the Planning Board.

Boghossian said unless he can buy more land, he currently has no plans for new construction on the site.

No formal action was taken at that meeting; it was a technical review of the elements of the application that Boghossian will submit to the board for consideration at a future meeting.

“This is not an analysis, but whether it’s all complete,” Planning Board Chairwoman Debby Willis said at the start of the meeting.

Earlier this summer, Boghossian gave a public presentation on his conceptual plan for a pocket neighborhood on Dresden Avenue. He was proposing to redevelop the hospital buildings that sit on about 5 acres into a mix of market-rate apartments and condominium units, 68 in all.

At that meeting, which took place in the truck bays of the Gardiner Fire Department, many residents of Dresden Avenue and its neighboring streets spoke out against the plan. They argued that adding that many residential units would fundamentally change the character of their established neighborhood, and that adding apartments in particular would introduce residents who were not expected to stay for more than a year.

Residents were also angry the project had been discussed at a Planning Board workshop of which they were unaware.

That anger carried over to a meeting between MaineGeneral officials and Dresden Avenue residents at the end of August about the Dresden Avenue property, during which they repeated their concerns to Paul Stein, MaineGeneral Medical Center’s chief operating officer. They also asked him to reconsider the decision to sell to Boghossian.

At that meeting, Stein said MaineGeneral signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with Boghossian in early 2020. Under the terms of the deal, Boghossian can withdraw from the contract, but the hospital cannot.

Stein said hospital officials have granted two extensions on the sale, due to interruptions in city government processes as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic. The latest extension expires at the end of September, and Stein said he won’t recommend a third extension to the hospital board.

He said the hospital, which has relocated most of the offices and uses on the site to a new leased facility on Brunswick Avenue, is not interested in continuing to own the property. It will, however, continue to operate the Alzheimer’s Care Center.

Dresden Avenue, which runs generally south from the Gardiner Common, falls into the city’s high density residential district.

Under the city’s land use regulations, that property could be developed into no more than 43 units, but if at least 10% of the units are affordable housing as outlined in state law, that number may be increased by 20% bringing the total number of units in the proposal to 51.

State law defines affordable housing as “a decent, safe and sanitary dwelling, apartment or other living accommodation for a household whose income does not exceed 80% of the median income for the area as defined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development under the United States Housing Act of 1937.”

Once the application is complete, it will undergo both subdivision and site plan review by the Planning Board, which will include public hearings.

That meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet.

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