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April 18, 2018

Freeport developer to build 48-unit apartment complex in Augusta

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
A 43-acre site on Civic Center Drive in Augusta (background) will be developed into apartments. The area south of Marketplace at Augusta and Exits 112 of Interstate 95 has been a recent development hot spot in the city.

AUGUSTA — A Freeport developer hopes to build up to 48 market-rate apartments on a north Augusta site.

Best Apartments Inc. bought the 43-acre lot at 10 Civic Center Drive for $200,000 from MJH LLC, closing March 28.

"It's a nice piece of land," said developer Tim Gooch, of Best Apartments. He noted that it's less than a mile from the Marketplace of Augusta shopping complex, which includes a Walmart, Home Depot and dozens of other stores.

"It's right off the highway," he said. "It's great potential for apartments."

It's also across Civic Center Drive from the University of Maine at Augusta.

Gooch said the acreage is enough for 100 units, but he plans to do four 12-apartment buildings to start. The units would be one and two-bedroom, and rents would be between $1,200 and $1,400.

He said demand on the early phase of apartments will determine the eventual total amount of apartments at the site.

Gooch said there is demand for market-rate apartments in Augusta, but it's a balancing act with how much rent tenants can afford to pay.

"Even in the capital city it's hard to make the numbers work," he said.

He said one trend he's seeing is people who work in the Portland area who are willing to live in the Augusta area and make the 45-minute commute, because they are priced out of Portland.

Some site challenges

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
The Augusta site slated for an apartment complex. Connected Credit Union's new headquarters is in the background.

The land was already cleared by the previous owners, and nine acres of it along Civic Center Drive was rezoned in 2016 to allow commercial use.

He's also talking to the city about possible tax increment financing to help with a new entrance, which he estimates will cost $200,000 or more because of the steep grade and location.

The current entrance, a dirt road that skirts a stream, is on a curve of Civic Center Drive, right after the intersection of Bond Brook Road.

Once those issues are worked out, Gooch said he'd like to get started as soon as possible.

Gooch also owns Capri Apartments on Western Avenue, which he's in the process of selling, and Capital Village, on Leighton Road.

The area south of Marketplace at Augusta and the University of Maine at Augusta, once dense woods, has been increasingly developed in recent years.

Most recently, Connected Credit Union built its three-story headquarters on the adjacent lot, opening in 2016.

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