Lewiston, Maine–Work has started on the redevelopment of the historic 81 Ash St. in Lewiston, a city of about 41,000 in south-central Maine. After having been vacant for about six years, the property will be converted into an affordable 32-unit multifamily residence for seniors.
Once completed, the units will be available to seniors with 60 percent of the area’s median annual income or less. That will translate to rental rates of $575 to $700.
The development will feature 26 one-bedroom and six two-bedroom units. Amenities will include two community rooms, a central laundry and wireless Internet access. Renovations to the property will include a new patio and seating area adjacent to the community room, a new parking lot and landscaping, including a small park with views of the nearby Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
The structure dates from the 1890s and has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979. It started as the Healey Asylum, an orphanage for boys run by the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, a function that continued into the early 1970s. After a stint as a boarding house, it became Intown Manor, an assisted living facility that closed in 2005.
The redevelopment process will involve a total gut of the building, but special attention will be paid to preserving the historic character of the property, including the tin ceilings and original stairwells. The Developers Collaborative of Portland is doing the work on behalf of 81 Ash Street Inc., an affiliate of the Lewiston Housing Authority, which has undertaken the task after a number of private developers were unable to make a go of it.
All together, the cost of redevelopment will be about $7.6 million, financed by tax credit equity from the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Historic Tax Credit programs, along with HOME fund money from HUD and tax-increment financing from Lewiston. Multifamily investor Boston Capital, one of whose specialties is LIHTC finance, has made a sizable investment in the property.
Diego Benites, vice president of acquisitions for Boston Capital, tells MHN that the building’s historic character will help attract residents “looking for a senior-oriented lifestyle in high-quality affordable housing. Also, the development is located near the Lewiston Community Center and Blake Street Towers, a Lewiston Housing Authority property, which offer services and programs for the senior population.”