Property at 435 and 443 Civic Center Drive, seen on the left, is the site of a large, proposed housing development on about 18 acres in Augusta. The city’s Planning Board approved a zone change Tuesday to allow multi-family dwellings in that district, though the plan must still clear several regulatory hurdles. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

AUGUSTA — The Planning Board approved a zone change to allow a proposal to build up to 400 residential housing units off Civic Center Drive to move forward.

The proposal, from local real estate agent and longtime area apartment building owner Jim Pepin, would build as many as 400 housing units in eight new buildings. Most of the units would be condominiums and the rest would be market-rate apartments ranging from one to three-bedrooms in size.

They would be built at 435 and 443 Civic Center Drive on about 18 acres, with an entrance across Civic Center Drive from the Skowhegan Savings Bank branch. The property consists mostly of fields and woods, with one abandoned home that would be demolished as part of the project.

The proposal requires a zone change because the district where it is located, the Planned Development District, does not currently allow multi-family dwellings.

Board members voted 5-1 Tuesday to approve a contract zone which would allow multi-family dwellings to be built on that site. Pepin would have to come back to the board for approval of specific site plans for each of the planned buildings.

The contact zone change must also be approved by the Augusta City Council.


Pepin said the 32 units in the first proposed building would all be three-bedroom, two-bathroom units and average about 1,900 square feet, which he said is larger than an average-sized ranch home. He said the condominiums are projected to sell in the range of $375,000 to $395,000.

Pepin said ideally he’d sell all the units as condominiums. But he said units that don’t sell as condominiums would be rented out as apartments. He said in order to move ahead with the project, beyond the first building, he’d need to sell enough units as condominiums to raise the funds to build more buildings in additional phases.

“What I have in mind is a condominium village,” Pepin said. “I’d need to have enough sales proceeds from the first building in order to start the second, the third and so forth.”

An artist’s rendering shows a 32-unit building proposed off Civic Center Drive in Augusta. The project plans call for 364 units, but the developer says he will seek approval for as many as 400 units. Rendering courtesy of Sakara Creative

Betsy Poulin, city planner, said new housing in that part of the city could help give workers at that area’s many businesses a place to live closer to their workplaces. She said the city may want to consider allowing multi-family housing in the entire Planned Development zoning district.

Gloria Bibeau, who lives near the site on Civic Center Drive, said that area is a convenient place to live, close to shopping, the interstate and other amenities, and the idea of condominiums appeals to her. But she said the units in the first proposed building would be too expensive for Augusta residents to afford. She noted the area offers housing options for older adults who are wealthy, or are poor, but very little for those with average incomes.

“I’m fairly disappointed Mr. Pepin’s project wants to be luxurious, I don’t believe it meets the needs of our community, it leaves out that middle group of seniors,” she said. “Going with smaller units, the average person could afford, fills that void this whole area has.”


Pepin responded that future buildings to be built if and when the project moves forward would include smaller, more affordable, units.

City councilors set increasing and improving housing in the city as their top goal for the year, to help address an ongoing shortage of available housing in the area.

Board members Tuesday also approved a proposal to redevelop a prominent and historic downtown building into 25 luxury apartments.

The Augusta Planning Board has approved a proposal to turn the Olde Federal Building at the corner of Water and Winthrop streets in Augusta into luxury apartments. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

In November, after more than an hour of discussion, board members tabled their decision on a proposal to redevelop the Olde Federal Building, saying they needed more information on the details of the plan.

The Goldman Group, a real estate development and management company based in greater Boston, submitted a plan that would convert the castle-like stone building’s existing office space into luxury apartments with amenities for tenants while preserving some of the retail space.

The 295 Water St. building, located in the Water Street historic district, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


The developer reduced the planned number of apartments from 30 to 25 after it was determined six apartments planned for the level of the riverside building below Water Street would be in the floodplain, and not allowed, according to Poulin.

Some board members expressed displeasure with plans to have some of the apartments at street level on Water Street. Bob Corey, board member, said the city’s Comprehensive Plan discourages that and said the Water Street street level parts of buildings should be used for retail uses.

However, Poulin said the city has no ordinances that would prevent residential uses on the street level of Water Street.

Board members voted 5-0 to approve the proposed change in use of the building.

“We look forward to our continued work with the City of Augusta as we develop the property into Augusta’s premier luxury apartment complex,” the Goldman Group said in a news release Tuesday night. “Understanding its historical significance to the city, we are committed to enabling the broader community access and enjoyment of the building through functional ground-level commercial spaces, among other amenities. Our goal is to raise the standard and value of the area and the city at large, in addition to creating new employment opportunities and improving the quality of life for the community.”

Construction is slated to begin at the end of 2023 and be completed by late 2024, according to the company.

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