SANFORD, Maine – James Nimon looks at Central Park in downtown Sanford and sees what he calls “missing teeth.”
Nimon, the executive director of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, talks about the empty, grassy, fenced lot where an old commercial building and historic homes on School Street once stood. The commercial building – the original site of Paras Pizza and the first office of the old Sanford News – burned down in a fire in 2005. The houses were run down and demolished several years ago.
Developers Rob Reinken and his son, Tim, plan to fill in these “missing teeth”. Recently, the Sanford Planning Council gave their company, ReinCorp, preliminary approval to build market-priced apartments for seniors and young professionals at the corner of School and Bodwell streets, across from Central Park.
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On the property, which they bought in 2014, the Reinkens plan to build three three-story apartment buildings with 30 one-bedroom units among them. The complex will be called Central Park Residences.
For some time, city officials and others have been working on revitalizing the downtown area, which has had its share of vacant commercial space in recent years. During his presentation to the planning council on September 15, Rob Reinken said his company’s vision is to continue investing in the city as part of a public-private effort to revive the downtown area.
“We also hope that this project will create a little more momentum with the improvement of the downtown area,” he said.
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Nimon said the Growth Council and Sanford City Council had “pushed hard” for market-priced housing in the city center, with the aim of attracting more people with disposable income and resources. help create more services and businesses.
“It’s a business and it’s people who do what they say,” Nimon said of ReinCorp. “They want to do it the right way. They want this thing to look amazing when you look from Central Park to School Street… I can’t say enough about our support for it.
Mary Hastings of Friends of the Downtown, a new small ad hoc committee focused on downtown development, also praised ReinCorp and expressed support for the project.
“We also hope this will trigger further growth in the downtown area,” Hastings said. “As most of us all know, the health of a community is generally directly correlated with the health of its downtown.”
Planning director Beth DellaValle told the board that the sitemap review committee recommended the proposal with a few conditions.
Walking promotion project
Reinken said the complex is intended to promote a “walkable way of life” and will include a streetscape with planters, trees and street lights in line with those erected by the city. Two of the buildings will offer 12 units and the third will offer six units.
“We plan to develop the property extensively and keep this aesthetic aspect as much as possible,” said Reinken.
A 40-space car park will be located behind the buildings, Tim Reinken told the board. The grounds will be lit at night with lights affixed to the buildings – no light poles will be installed. The lights will be shielded and directed downwards to avoid disturbing the neighbors.
The complex will be accessed by a one-way entrance from School Street and a two-way entrance on Bodwell Street. It will also be connected to the city’s water and sewer systems.
“We believe this project will be an asset to the community, and we hope it will be a catalyst for the future development of the city center,” said Tim Reinken.
No one spoke out against the project at the board meeting.
Planning council member Jack McAdam spoke about the need for family housing which was discussed by city officials, but expressed his hopes for ReinCorp’s proposal.
“This will hopefully bring more business downtown which is what Sanford needs,” he said.
Planning board chairman Lenny Horr agreed.
“I hope this snowballs into something more substantial for the community,” Horr said. “Someone has to take the first step, and I credit these guys for being the first to walk through the door here in downtown. Hopefully many more people follow in their footsteps and take a little bit of pride in downtown with the investment where it is so desperately needed.
On Wednesday, Rob Reinken said he hoped to launch the project this spring and complete it and have the apartments ready for occupancy by winter 2023.