MADISON — Developers will be gathering feedback next week for a series of multimillion-dollar projects that call for construction of up to 42 apartments at a town-owned site on Weston Avenue that long ago was home to an elementary school.

The proposal will go ahead of the town’s Planning Board next Tuesday after members previously reviewed the application and deemed it complete. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at the Old Point School Meeting Room.

Developers on the project are working this month to submit the project application to MaineHousing for financing and hope to receive all local approvals in August.

Officials hope the apartments will appeal to people such as senior residents looking to downsize and employees moving to town to work at Timber HP, a new wood-fiber insulation operation housed at the old Madison Paper Mill.

The housing project proposal is split into two phases. The first phase calls for two buildings that will house 18 apartments and the second phase calls for three buildings with 24 apartments, all priced at market rates. The homes will not be available for Section 8 vouchers and will not qualify as subsidized affordable housing. Each building will contain eight to 10 units and a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments.

“Madison, like all rural towns in Maine, has a very old housing stock,” said Town Manager Tim Curtis. “New housing development on a large scale has been very slow to emerge and the cost of building materials certainly hasn’t helped.”


The first two buildings are expected to cost around $5 million, with financing expected to come from MaineHousing through a new Rural Rental Program that supports workforce housing. So-called “soft costs” associated with the project, including pre-development work, has been funded so far by the project’s development team: Sam Hight of Hight Family Dealerships, based in Skowhegan; Kara Wilbur, a developer based in Portland and New Portland; and Brian End; a developer based in Portland.

Curtis said that tenants with incomes between $40,000 to about $70,000 will qualify for the units, with rent expected to fall between $1,000 and $1,290 a month.

The site at 55 Weston Ave. was once home of the Weston Avenue School. It was built in the 1920s and served as the elementary school for the north side of town, and more recently was home to Maine School Administrative District 59’s administrative offices until 2012, Curtis said.

“The building was turned over to the town, after a brief review of potential uses, it was determined that trying to retrofit or renovate was cost-prohibitive,” Curtis said. “The building was torn down in 2014 and the property has since been used for recreational purposes.”

Town officials have spoken with several contractors in recent years to see if there was interest in developing housing, Curtis said, but nothing ever materialized. A 2021 housing study identified three areas within town that would be prime for housing developments, including the site on Weston Avenue.

“I shared the housing study with Sam Hight, shortly after he approached the town with a development team and a deal was struck to develop the site,” Curtis said.

As part of the arrangement between the town and developers, the property will be deeded to the housing development in two stages, with the northern half of the property leading efforts. The southern half, meanwhile, will remain with the town until an environmental study can be completed on the buried remains of the school building.

Following public comment Tuesday, the Planning Board will continue the review process of the application to make sure all local ordinance standards are met, with permitting slated to begin in the fall.

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