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Courthouse Could Be Repurposed for Housing

The former Maine District Court building at 447 Main Street, Springvale

The former Maine District Court building at 447 Main Street, Springvale

Photo: Lee Burnett

By Lee Burnett, Submissions Editor

The former Maine District Court building in Springvale could be converted into 20 or more apartments as a result of legislation, supported by the Mills administration, that is whisking its way through the legislature.

The Sanford Housing Authority is conducting a feasibility study to determine renovation costs, code requirements, and funding streams, according to Executive Director Diane Small, who has personally toured the building. “It’s going to be good,” she said. Apartments would be available to people 55 and older who meet affordable housing income limits.

The courthouse has been vacant since last July when the state consolidated courts in Alfred, Biddeford, Springvale and York by opening a new York County Judicial Center on Route 1 in Biddeford.

Altogether, three York County courthouses – in Biddeford, Springvale and York – would be repurposed as affordable housing under a Mills administration bill that was endorsed Tuesday by the Maine Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Housing after a public hearing that drew no opposition, according to press reports. The House and Senate would still need to pass the legislation.

At least 10,100 new housing units need to be built in York County by 2030 to meet current and future demand, according to a landmark October report: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1UviPg54Hdy0ohANdD2eU3axaiAODj262/view. Some of the state’s priciest communities are in the desirable region sandwiched between greater Portland and the Boston metro area.

“If we could get at least 30 (units), it would help,” said Small. Much of the demand for the units will come from seniors downsizing from houses to apartments, she said. Under a program started by Sanford’s Land Bank Authority, the houses they vacate could be repurposed into affordable housing units as well, she said.

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