This rendering shows the affordable housing project planned for Weston Avenue in Madison. Thirty-six rental units are ultimately planned for the site. Gov. Janet Mills was in Madison on Friday to mark the start of construction. Rendering courtesy of Sam Hight

MADISON — Gov. Janet Mills joined local officials Friday to mark the start of construction on a $10 million housing project that’s seen as a critical step to address the shortage in affordable rental housing in the area.

The project at 55 Weston Ave., just north of downtown, received initial funding of $2.9 million from the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program, which is a component of Mills’ broader plan for job creation.

The intention is to build four separate buildings that will have 36 units, but for now the focus will be to construct two buildings, offering 18 units, by late spring.

A primary focus for the project is to provide new housing for a growing workforce in the area, particularly those finding employment with the manufacturing startup TimberHP at the former Madison paper mill and with the New Balance plant in Skowhegan, which is undergoing a $65 million expansion.

“We’ll be looking for young professionals moving to the area and downsizing seniors as the demographic for this (Weston Avenue project),” said Samuel Hight, a principal with the Hight Family of Dealerships and a developer for the housing project.

Tim Curtis, who was the town manager of Madison when the project moved through the approval process, said there’s not enough rental units in the area and the ones that are available tend to be old and in need of some degree of repair.


“Most of that housing stock in Madison is well over 100 years old and needs a lot of work,” said Curtis, who’s now the Somerset County administrator. ‘That’s why new housing like this project is so important, because it brings in a new alternative.”

Residents in the area had complained last year about the plans, arguing that the addition of new residents in the complex would prove disruptive to the quiet nature of the neighborhood. But it wasn’t enough to dissuade an overwhelming number of people who voted at a special meeting in August 2022 to OK the project.

“People are always looking for housing in town,” Town Manager Denise Ducharme said. “The groundbreaking … is going to meet a need, hopefully, for some of the folks that are working lower to mid-level-income family jobs.”

MaineHousing helped provide financing for the project and its director, Daniel Brennan, said in a news release issued by the governor’s office that, “It creates a type of much-needed housing that fits well in the neighborhood and will be a vital economic asset for the people of Madison for decades to come.”

Mills said in the same release that, “Innovative businesses are creating good-paying jobs in Madison and Skowhegan, but too many workers and job seekers are struggling to find a nearby home or apartment they can afford. This exciting project … will enable dozens of Maine families to make their home in Madison and help businesses like New Balance and TimberHP find the workers they need to sustain their promising growth.”

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