BELFAST — The City of Belfast Mayor, Councilors and staff will facilitate a listening session at 115 Congress Street on Tuesday, July 28, 2020, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. This is the second listening session on the redevelopment of this property for workforce housing. The first took place on October 29, 2019.
The City of Belfast recently undertook environmental cleanup and demolition activities at the site of the City’s former Public Works facility. This cleanup, now approaching a successful completion, according to the City, in a news release, was done to prepare the 115 Congress Street site for future redevelopment.
Due to the location of the site and the current critical need for additional housing in Belfast, the mayor and City Council determined the current highest and best use of this property is for workforce housing.
To move this property closer to a successful redevelopment, the City recently engaged in productive discussions with Developers Collaborative, a housing developer based in Portland, and who is already developing an affordable senior housing project on Wight Street, according to the City.
“The City of Belfast is committed to working with neighbors and members of the community to create a successful project,” said the release.
“This is an important project for Belfast,” said Councilor Neal Harkness, in the release. “We want to make sure that all people in the neighborhood and the community at large are part of the process and that their input is included as this project moves forward.”
Listening session attendees are encouraged to bring their own chair or other seating device for their comfort. Attendees are required to follow all CDC guidelines while in attendance. If the event is cancelled due to inclement weather, the make-up date and time will be Thursday, July 30, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
According to MaineHousing’s 2020 data, in Belfast the median 2-bedroom apartment with utilities costs $1,219, and the income needed to afford (spending no more than 30% of their gross income) that median 2-bedroom apartment is $48,777 (equivalent to an hourly wage of $23.45). However, the median renter household income is only $30,872 (equivalent to an hourly wage of $14.84), and for a 2-bedroom apartment to be considered affordable to them it could not exceed $772 per month, according to the City. Eight hundred and fifty-five out of the 1,237 total renter households in Belfast, or 69.1% of them, are unable to afford the median 2-bedroom apartment.
“Housing has become one of the largest barriers in Belfast’s continued economic growth,” said City Manager Erin Herbig. “Employers struggle recruit workers because of the lack of affordable housing. This project is in important part of Belfast’s economic recovery following the pandemic.”