A developer of affordable housing in the Bangor region is now working to create a 40-unit senior housing complex next to St. Joseph Hospital in a partnership that aims to provide easier health care access for the residents.
Not all the hospital’s neighbors are happy with the idea, however.
The developer, Penquis, is now seeking zoning changes for four lots along Broadway where the apartment building would go and a few additional lots — including some on Congress and French streets — for adjacent parking, according to preliminary plans.
The planning board is due to consider the zoning changes during a remote meeting Tuesday night. If the changes are granted, Penquis plans to work with neighboring property owners on developing a final plan for the complex, which would then need financing and additional city approval.
The project would require several existing buildings to be torn down. Most of them are now used as office buildings or rented out by the hospital, according to Penquis Housing Development Director Jason Bird. Eventually, Penquis would become the owner and landlord of the roughly $8 million complex.
Some neighboring residents have expressed concern that the proposed project could hurt their property values and bring additional vehicle traffic to the side roads that overlook Broadway Park.
“I don’t care what [St. Joseph Hospital] does with the property on Broadway but I am concerned about the property on Congress and French street[s],” Bev Mansell, a property owner along French Street, wrote in a letter to the city planning office. “Please consider how [you] would feel if your neighborhood were taken over by the hospital.”
Bird, who met with a group of those neighbors in Broadway Park on Thursday, said he thinks the traffic impact on those side roads would be minimal because the entrance and exit to the proposed three-story complex would be along Broadway.
More broadly, the project would improve the area by creating good, affordable housing when there is a “tremendous” need for it in Greater Bangor, Bird said.
While the market value of those new units would likely rise over time, Penquis would be forced to keep them available to renters who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to live in the city. They would be available to people 55 and older whose annual income is roughly 60 percent or less of the median area income, which currently works out to around $30,000 or less, according to Bird.
The building would be similar in appearance to another 39-unit housing complex, the Stephen B. Mooers Village, that Penquis is close to finishing on Grandview Avenue, just off the other side of Broadway between Bangor High School and Broadway Shopping Center.
Mary Prybylo, the president and CEO of St. Joseph Healthcare, was not available for an interview on Friday, but she also attended the meeting with neighbors of the project on Thursday.
Through Penquis’ partnership with the hospital, the organization hopes to offer the apartments to aging people who would benefit from living so close to a medical center, perhaps because they have chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure that require close monitoring, Bird said.
“There is a real opportunity for us to connect health care in the residential setting,” he said.