The Linwood, one of several styles of houses planned for the 36-home development at Brunswick Landing. Courtesty of Graiver Homes

BRUNSWICK — A new development of three dozen single-family homes at Brunswick Landing could bring some much needed “affordable” and workforce housing to the area. 

Shipyard Ventures, or Brunswick Landing Ventures, is developing 36 single-family residential lots on Neptune Drive, Forrestal Drive, Intrepid Street and Guadalcanal Street in Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. 

Loni Graiver of Graiver Homes intends to buy the lots and build the homes, which he hopes will be ready sometime in the spring 2021. 

Graiver said many of the homes will be categorized as “workforce housing,” with a price tag between $275,000 and $350,000, but they could go as low as $260,000, if he partners with Maine State Housing Authority.  

Under its Affordable Housing Subdivision Program, Maine State Housing Authority stipulates that developers in Cumberland, Sagadahoc and York counties can sell homes for up to $260,000 and still be considered “affordable housing,” provided the buyers meet certain income limits.  

This is the second phase of a larger development plan at the landing, and Graiver said in the first phase, five of the eight homes in the development were sold as “affordable” through the partnership with the housing authority. 

“We’re looking to bring an affordability not seen in Brunswick for a long time,” Graiver said, something he believes is possible for his company because of their high volume and low overhead costs. 

“We could build the standard four-bedroom, two-and-a-half-bath houses all over the state, but we’re trying to figure out how to contribute to the next tier down, the first-time buyers,” he said. “I know what it was like a long time ago, and the opportunities for first time buyers or people looking downsize was going by the wayside.” 

According to the Maine State Housing Facts and Affordability Index for 2019, which is the most current data available, the median home price in the Brunswick “micropolitan” housing market is $265,000. In order to afford that, a family would need to make $76,752 per year. 

However, in Brunswick, the median income is $67,439, which would support a $232,847 home. In Brunswick, almost 57% of households are not able to afford the “median” priced home. 

Chris Rhoades, an owner of Shipyard Ventures, said more housing at the landing will help with ongoing revitalization efforts, and that the town and Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority — which oversees the transition of the former base to civilian use — have expressed interest in seeing increased density at the landing. 

“The whole area is really coming alive,” he said, and with more than 2,000 people now employed at the former base, there’s a growing need for housing. 

“We’re trying to bring as many homes to the market as possible to capture that inventory that’s missing,” he said. 

But the planned development isn’t good news for everyone.

Denise Lynch and Darren Wallach, two homeowners on Intrepid Street, as well as a few of their neighbors, are concerned the construction, and later the houses, will interfere with their quality of life. 

In an email to Matt Panfil, director of planning and development, Lynch said she was worried “about losing right of way land that we have walked, played on, cross-country skied on, snowshoed on.”

That land, a roughly one-acre strip that Rhoades contends is just about 55 trees, is known in the neighborhood as “Intrepid woods” and is well-used by the community.

“This small open space of less than an acre should be saved for children and adults alike,” Wallach said. “I would also argue that it is part of the common land as it has been walked on continuously for over twenty years with no impediments.”

Technically speaking, according to Panfil, it is not “undevelopable” and while used as a common area, still belongs to the developers. 

There are other concerns though, that the additional homes will create too much traffic. 

Intrepid is currently quiet and conducive to safe walks with strollers, bike rides and dog walking,” Lynch said, and “the addition of a potential (36) homes in the field and along the narrow area… will perhaps add 70 more vehicles…  to the daily traffic to the narrow roads.  There are young people skateboarding and riding their bikes and more traffic could (potentially) harm them.”

“They also destroyed the toddler playground in June that our kids use without warning and threw it in a dump truck,” Wallach added in an email. He does not agree with the Landing’s assertions that it was old or in the way of people trying to mow the lawn. 

Lynch agreed. The removal of the playground is just “one less shaded, clean area for young families who bring their children (there) daily to play,” she said. 

According to Panfil, the push back from a few residents, which has been in the form of phone calls, emails and during public comment at a recent staff committee meeting, has been “thoughtful and passionate,” if “surprising.” 

Shipyard Ventures purchased the lots in 2017 and the area was approved back in 2018 for a 42-townhouse subdivision.

So, Panfil said, the 36-home development is actually a slight scaling-back of what was originally proposed.

“I don’t know if the residents weren’t aware,” he said. “They raised a lot of good questions and points… I understand the concerns but the owner is entitled to development rights.” 

To Rhoades, the decision is an easy one. 

“It’s wanted by the (town), wanted by MRRA, and needed for the residential inventory of the community,” he said. 

Shipyard Ventures and Graiver Homes recently partnered on another Brunswick Landing development project, a 108-unit apartment complex that received the go-ahead from the planning board late last month. The project will feature nine three-story apartment buildings a 9 and 10 Captains Way, a cul-de-sac off Admiral Fitch Drive. The lots encompass roughly 6 acres. The one- and two-bedroom units are expected to run between $1,300 and $1,500. 

The planning board will meet to discuss the upcoming development project on Intrepid, Forrestal, Neptune and Guadalcanal streets Aug. 25.

The program through the Maine Housing Authority that helps builders provide affordable housing in subdivisions is the Affordable Housing Subdivision Program. A previous edition of the article incorrectly identified the program. 


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