Your Neighbors, Your Town
Because of input from townspeople and requests from the council, the proposal for Dunham Court has evolved to allow for more multi-bedroom units.
At the request of the Town Council, The Szanton Company identified an alternate building layout that reduces the total number of units to 46, but now includes:
- 3 three-bedroom units – all affordable rate
- 8 two-bedroom units – six affordable rate, two market rate
- 35 one-bedroom units – twenty-eight affordable rate, seven market rate
This was made possible when the Town Council indicated a willingness to consider a TIF/CEA with a higher percentage of funds returned to the project. Throughout the TIF/CEA discussion process with the Town Council it has appeared that the Council prefers this new version. Unless new feedback is received from the council, this is the unit breakdown that will be used going forward.
Income qualifications must be met for the units offered as affordable housing.
The other nine units could be rented to anyone, regardless of income.
Affordable units will be rented for around $1,050 for a one-bedroom apartment and
around $1,300 for a two-bedroom apartment.
Three-bedroom units, which will all rent in the affordable category, will be $1,495.
Market rate apartments will be rented for around $1,495 for a one-bedroom apartment and around $1,695 for a two-bedroom apartment.
All rents include heat and hot water, and all residents will have access to a fitness center and a community room, free wi-fi, and secure, indoor bike storage.
Dunham Court would be located behind the new Village Green, near Town Hall. It would be convenient to the Pond Cove shopping center and Cape Elizabeth schools. It would enhance our Town Center, welcome new people, and help make much-needed affordable housing part of Cape Elizabeth's future.
Many suburban communities have already changed their zoning to accommodate affordable housing; Cape Elizabeth has not, so to build Dunham Court and bring affordable housing to our community, some narrowly focused zoning amendments would be needed.
Importantly, these amendments would support the town's comprehensive plan regarding housing, specifically in the plan's aim to:
The maximum building footprint for the Town Center is 5000 sq. ft. per building. Because of the 100-foot wooded buffer behind the building, there is room for only two 5,000 sq. ft. buildings with a connector. 49 apartments are needed for financial feasibility, and although Dunham Court would be four stories tall, it would be no taller than Town Hall because it would sit on land which is six feet lower than the land on which Town Hall sits.
Dunham Court needs 76 parking spaces to comply with zoning. Shared parking is encouraged within town zoning. Dunham Court will have 34 spaces on the subdivision lot and will share the remaining 42 spaces on the Town Hall lot. These 42 spaces will include 34 new parking spaces to be constructed at the developer's expense in the rear of the lot.
Current zoning for the Town Center requires commercial space on the ground floor of any development. This does not make sense for Dunham Court; the site is 320 feet from the road, and poorly situated for commercial uses though it is excellent for housing.
Current zoning requires 3,000 sq. ft. of land per unit of housing. That would equal only 26 units. We're asking for 49 units because density is what makes an affordable housing property financially feasible to build.
Most apartments at Dunham Court are affordable housing and rented for below market rate, it is not a financially feasible project to undertake at a smaller scale. If affordable housing could be built at currently permitted densities in Cape Elizabeth, it would be, but because of these factors there has been no new affordable housing in Cape Elizabeth for 50 years.
The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) diverts 45% of the incremental tax increases to the Dunham Court project so that the developer can take on additional mortgage debt. However, with the density, height, and footprint boost allowed by the zoning amendment, the building will generate more overall taxes than a building that could be built within the current zoning. This means that the 55% of incremental tax increase Cape Elizabeth will receive during the 30-year TIF period is likely on par with the taxes that would be received by a project built under current zoning restrictions. After 30 years, all tax revenue goes to Cape Elizabeth.
Parcels of land outside of the Town Center would require even greater zoning variances to allow for a critical mass of units. Also, people in need of affordable housing often need the proximity to goods or services that are in or close to the Town Center, such as grocery stores and schools.
The location of Dunham Court in the Town Center allows Cape Elizabeth to retain the
rural feel of forest and farmland throughout the rest of town.
Dunham Court is being built by a local developer, The Szanton Company. They have won multiple awards for excellence, are well-known, and are highly respected. They specialize in mixed-income development and operate several successful properties throughout southern Maine.
No. Because financing for this project is done through MaineHousing, it must remain as affordable housing for at least 45 years.
The Szanton Company has never sold one of its properties. This is a reliable firm, committed to this project for the long-term. Also, as previously stated, the property must remain as affordable housing for at least 45 years.