ROCKLAND, Maine — The importance of elderly housing was highlighted Wednesday afternoon during a formal groundbreaking for the expansion of the Bartlett House.

The project has been more than three years in the planning process.

The expansion will add 24 apartments to the three-story, 34-unit Bartlett House located on Bartlett Drive, which is off Talbot Avenue. The $2.5 million project is expected to take nine months to complete.

The Rev. Peter Jenks of Thomaston said the project was one more step toward bettering the community.

“This will not just be stone and cement but an achievement of love and hard work,” Jenks said.

Rockland Mayor Brian Harden, who lives next to the Bartlett House, said that both his neighbors and the city council have supported the original Bartlett House and now the expansion.

“There are many people in Rockland who need assisted living but don’t want to leave Rockland,” Harden said.

Developer and architect John Morris said the new wing will boast several new features. Even though the existing building is energy efficient, the new wing will be even more so with all the windows being triple-glazed.

“This will make it very cozy,” Morris said.

Each of the three floors of the new wing will have a 20-square-foot room for different functions such as a media room, a lounge that can handle overflow dinners during special events and one for meetings if needed.

There also will be some changes to the existing building including an expansion of the main lounge.

There will be drainage work done outside to make the lawn used for croquet drier, he added.