Cars drive south on High Street in Ellsworth in this May 2019 photo. A 75-unit apartment complex proposed for High Street between Myrick Street and Beechland Road is the latest of several large-scale, high-density housing developments that have been pursued in the city in recent years. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

As housing remains at a premium around Maine, another large apartment complex is being planned in Ellsworth.

A developer hopes to get city approval to build a complex with 75 apartments on a 2.5-acre lot on upper High Street, next to the Blueberry Hill Dairy Bar. The city’s planning board will consider the proposal at its Aug. 3 meeting.

The proposed development is among other new housing projects proposed for Ellsworth, the population of which continues to grow as Maine’s pandemic-driven real estate boom has made affordable housing in the area scarce.

Housing development has dominated growth in Ellsworth in recent years — though The Jackson Laboratory also has opened a $245 million mouse-breeding facility in the city — with demand at a high, according to city officials. At the same time, Ellsworth’s retail growth has slowed significantly since the 2000s.

The proposed apartment development on High Street from Branch Pond LLC would have roughly the same number of apartments as the first phase of another development proposed for Downeast Highway, behind D’Amanda’s bowling alley and arcade on Eastward Lane. That proposal by W.L. Properties would have 74 units in the first phase and 68 units in a second phase for a total of 142.

Both proposed complexes are larger than others built in the past decade in the city. Those include 29 units at Straw Way Family Housing on Water Street, 24 high-end apartments on Ruger Way off Washington Street, and 24 rental units on Acorn Way. In January, a building permit was issued for 6 more townhouse units on Acorn Way, off Surry Road.

Other high-density housing projects in Ellsworth approved and built in recent years continue to expand as well.

Building permits for two buildings with a combined 23 additional apartments were issued in April for the Jefferson Luxe apartments on Stone Park Way, which should bring the total number of apartments in the complex to 45 units. On Oriole Way, behind Shaw’s supermarket and Reny’s on High Street,  more than 40 additional townhouse-style units are being built in an affordable housing complex, which is projected to increase the total number of units there to 90.

Since September, building permits have been issued for 7 duplexes and one single-family home on Denver Way off Bangor Road, where a 9-unit apartment building was constructed in 2018.

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....