Thursday, December 5, 2013
By Michael Shepherd email@example.com
State House Bureau
HALLOWELL — Two housing subdivisions on cul-de-sacs are rising on the city’s outskirts, the first subdivisions to go up in the city in years.
Developer Matt Morrill at Hallowell Overlook on Friday in Hallowell.
Staff photo by Joe Phelan
Their developers cite market improvement, location and Hallowell’s profile in the area as reasons why it’s a good time to build.
Combined, the two developments — Hallowell Overlook, off Winthrop Street, and Meadowood, off Vaughan Road near Hall-Dale Little League — have 29 lots. Only two, both at Hallowell Overlook, have sold.
Hallowell Overlook, owned by Matt Morrill of Winthrop, owner of Grand View Log & Timber Frames in Winthrop, was approved by the city’s planning board last year. Meadowood, owned by Farmingdale-based engineer Elliot Thayer, was approved earlier this year.
Jane Orbeton, chair of the city’s planning board, said the residential subdivisions are the first two the board has considered since 2009. Since that project hasn’t been built, they will be the first to be built there in far longer.
“We’re fired up,” Morrill said. “I think Hallowell needed some more housing options.”
His development, on Overlook Drive with 14 lots, snakes a third of a mile off Winthrop Street. A sliver of the development — a small part of three lots — is in Augusta, where the planning board approved the complex last year.
The location, near Hall-Dale Elementary School, is the main draw say those selling the property.
“You’re virtually across the street from the school, you’re walking distance from downtown and you have easy access to jobs” because of close proximity to Augusta and Interstate 95, said Perry McCourtney, a real estate agent with Augusta-based Sprague and Curtis who is selling the lots for Morrill.
The complex will have a nearly three acre recreation area along Winthrop Street that will serve as a buffer for residents from the road. Morrill said construction on the first home will begin next spring.
The urban part of Hallowell, on the east side of Interstate 95, is densely populated with large, vintage homes. But the area around the highway and on the city’s west side is sparse, with sprawling fields and plentiful open space.
Still, the city ranks third among Kennebec County municipalities in population density, with more than 400 residents per square mile, nearly three times the county average, according to 2010 Census data.
Only Waterville and Randolph have more residents per mile in the county. Hallowell, however, is wealthier, with a median household income estimated by the Census Bureau at approximately $59,000 in 2011, compared to Randolph’s $45,000 and Waterville’s $35,000.
“Hallowell has always been a draw — a very desirable community to live in, but there’s always been a shortage of new homes in Hallowell, particularly one-level living,” said McCourtney, a Hallowell native.
Meadowood will be the fifth housing complex that Farmingdale contractor Brad Hendrickson, selling all lots and set to build all homes at Thayer’s 15-lot development, has worked on. The others, including three in Farmingdale, were his own.
In past years, those looking to move to the Augusta area were more drawn to Farmingdale, he said, largely because of low property taxes. But the more rural town has lost ground to Hallowell, which touts a vibrant downtown, since then, he said.
“Now, you almost have to talk people into coming to Farmingdale because they want to be in Hallowell,” Hendrickson said. “They want to be part of that community.”
Thayer’s development is farther behind than Morrill’s: No lots have been sold, but Hendrickson said he’s waiting for the road to be completed before marketing them vigorously.
Morrill and Hendrickson said they want their roads to eventually become public, which means the city would assume responsibility for upkeep, such as paving and plowing. Morrill’s road is paved, and the City Council is considering his takeover request.
Lot sizes vary at the complexes. At Meadowood, only 13 of 15 lots will be available for sale in the next five years. Hendrickson said most lots are around two acres, but there’s one that has 14 acres.
Morrill’s development is more uniform. Lots range from just over an acre to just under three acres.
Both are optimistic that the real estate market has bounced back enough to support the complexes.
Data from the Maine Association of Realtors said 383 housing units sold in Kennebec County from the beginning of June to the end of August this year, 22 percent more than those sold in the same period in 2012.
Hendrickson said outside of the complex, he’s been getting calls for new homes every day, citing pent-up demand from the recession at the last decade’s end.
City Councilor Lisa Harvey-McPherson, who represents Ward 5, on the west side of the interstate, said Hallowell’s 2010 comprehensive plan looked to address development in rural areas, mixing priorities of downtown and country living.
“I believe the new developments are a successful implementation of that plan,” she said.
Michael Shepherd — 370-7652