FARMINGTON — Tenants and board members of 82 High Street housing development on Thursday celebrated the completion of three new modular apartment buildings.

“We’ve given people a place they can be proud to call home,” Pastor Ryan Goding, 82 High Street board member and treasurer, said.

The $1.5 million third phase of improvements included tearing down three old apartment buildings and constructing three modular buildings. Each building houses four apartments of one- and two-bedrooms.

The latest phase followed an upgrade of mobile homes and a second phase where water and sewer lines were replaced in the development, said Janet Smith, board chairman.

Tenant Peggy Mayette recently moved from a mobile home into a two-bedroom apartment with her service dog, Ella. 

“I like it. It is so spacious,” she said. 

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A large living room is cooled by a heat pump that provides heat in cold weather. Laundry facilities and storage are available in the basement. It is the first time she has ever had a dishwasher, Mayette said.

A green space within the park will provide a place for tenants to meet and children to play.

The housing development organized in 1987 with a goal to provide affordable housing, Smith said.

Fen Fowler, formerly of Western Maine Community Action, and the Rev. Scott Planting, formerly pastor at Fairbanks Union Church, collaborated on what could be done. In this university town, affordable housing was difficult to find, Fowler said.

This 3½-acre park where 100 people lived was then called “the ghetto,” because of the very poor conditions of aging trailers and wood-framed apartment buildings, he said.

“There were few homeless cause you could rent a place for a week,” he said. “It was not up to standards and not safe but it was a roof over your head.”

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If you had no money, you could stay and the landlord would collect on Friday, Fowler said.

Western Maine Community Action bought the property and Planting created a corporation. Tenants were asked to give $100 and area churches were asked for $100, he said. With $3,000, tenants, community and church members went to work on the apartment buildings, giving about 20,000 volunteer hours of work, he said.

But that was years ago, and the housing was becoming rundown.

“They were so needy. I could rent them but I’d have to explain there was a leak in the roof,” said property manager Rachel Jackson Hodsdon of Creative Energy LLC.

The needs were too great to consider renovating the apartment buildings and construction of new buildings was too costly, Smith said.

With numerous partnerships for funding and the efforts of Cousineau Inc., modular buildings became the solution.

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The first building was started last October and finished so tenants could move in before the first apartment building was razed. Each building was done in that order to alleviate moving people out completely, Jackson Hodsdon said.

All 12 apartments are full with a waiting list of 15 names, she said. The nonprofit wants to keep the rents as low as possible. A one-bedroom is $450 per month; two-bedroom $490; and a mobile home with three bedrooms is $585, she said.

The project received a $500,000 grant and a $540,000 loan, as well as a Community Development Block Grant of $500,000. 

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Peggy Mayette stands in her new two-bedroom apartment at 82 High Street on Sawtell Lane in Farmington on Thursday. Three new apartment buildings in the complex have been completed.

The three new modular apartment buildings in the 82 High Street housing development in Farmington are finished. A celebration was held Thursday.

Fenwick Fowler, formerly of Western Maine Community Action, talks about the history of 82 High Street housing development in Farmington on Thursday. 

Community members toured the three new modular apartment buildings in the 82 High Street housing development in Farmington during a celebration on Thursday.


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