Snow falls on the Tenney Hill stretch of Main Street in downtown Blue Hill. A developer has proposed building 10-duplexes here in an undeveloped lot near the Arborvine restaurant. Credit: Ethan Genter / BDN

A local developer looking to give professionals a place to live on the Blue Hill Peninsula has a proposal to build 10 duplexes downtown. 

Curtis Jaffray and his partner, Andrew Norris, want to build the 20 rental units on an undeveloped Tenney Hill lot near the Arborvine restaurant, according to the town. The estimated $3 million project would be between the Hancock County town’s two commercial centers and bring much-needed housing to the area.

Jaffray, who owns a Blue Hill construction company, submitted an application for the 20,000-square-foot development to the planning board earlier this month after first approaching officials in July. He told officials that he was imagining 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom apartments in a 4.5-acre cul-de-sac off Main Street. 

Neither Jaffray nor Norris immediately responded to requests for comment, but previously told officials they were planning market-rate apartments around $1,800 to $2,000 a month. The pair envisioned housing professionals, such as workers at the nearby hospital.

There are only a few apartment complexes in Blue Hill and the neighboring peninsula towns in the middle of a statewide housing affordability crisis that is most acute in coastal areas. Town officials across the region earlier this year started looking at what they can do to ease a local housing crunch, which forces people to often commute from Ellsworth or even Bangor.

In 2021, Blue Hill’s median home price was $369,000. The median income there was about $64,000, about $30,000 lower than the income needed to afford that mark, according to state housing data. Two-thirds of households were unable to afford that median home. 

While these units would not technically be considered affordable, some planning board members were glad to see potential development.

“I think it’s great that efforts are being made to provide housing in town,” board member Gavin Riggall said at the initial pre-application meeting. “It’s something that’s needed.”

The application was reviewed by the local planning board on Dec. 14 and “covered a lot of bases,” said Bryce Farnham, the town’s code enforcement officer. But the board did not deem it complete and wanted more information about potential stormwater runoff. The project would be built close to the existing wetland and there are neighbors further down the hill. 

Norris bought the land in May and he and Jaffray said they are already considering other peninsula housing projects, too. 

“We’re not just going to build this one,” Jaffray said in July. “We’re actively looking to build others.”