Housing developers express interest

Rockland agrees to accept McLain School

By Stephen Betts | May 08, 2017
Photo by: Stephen Betts The McLain School in Rockland.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council hopes to soon have private developers convert the McLain School into taxable housing.

City council voted 4-0 Monday, May 8 to accept the three-story, 1896 brick building at the intersection of Lincoln and Summer streets from Regional School Unit 13. RSU 13 will move out of the building this summer.

City Councilor Valli Geiger said there are no secret plans to turn the building into a city hall. She said if the property could be used to create housing and get it back on the tax roll that would be a great thing.

Councilor Adam Ackor said he too wants the city to work quickly to get it back on the tax roll.

Mayor Will Clayton said he was concerned about the operating costs the city will incur for having the building and he would like it to be turned over to someone within a year.

Acting City Manager Audra Caler Bell said that in addition to interest expressed by Penquis there are a couple other private housing developers who have asked to be informed when the city begins looking to solicit proposals. She declined to identify the other interested parties, saying they had not made any formal proposal.

Penquis Housing Director Jason Bird said April 26 the McLain building could provide an opportunity to help address Rockland's workforce housing shortage.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Sandra Schramm | May 10, 2017 18:21

It is in the best interest of Rockland to look at housing for middle to upper middle income Seniors who cannot afford the high rents and cottages at Bartlett Woods nor Jameson Point but want to live in a community setting. We have a need for this housing that would free up housing stock and retain a solid tax base. Many single Seniors would like to get out from under the high cost of maintaining a home and have more security and be close to amenities. Penquis will be adding quite a number of low income housing units in the coming months on Philbrick Ave and around the city as they take over the foreclosed homes. Restoring McLain School and converting it will be costly. The developers deserve a return on their investment and the residents in that area should have housing that blends in with the surrounding area. That is part of the Historic District of Rockland and the RE taxes are not cheap. We need that tax base to provide services.




Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | May 10, 2017 11:48

yes "affordable" housing, but be careful how you use that word.  We want housing that young people making $8-$12 per hour can afford.  You can plainly see the city is in a panic to dump this building to the first developer that waves cash in their face, most likely in the form of high end elderly housing ( like the $200,000 cottages at Quarry Hill or Bartlett woods.  These developers need to see a generous return on their investment.  I am afraid that unless the public becomes the Squeaky Wheel, affordable housing for our young is just going to become a good idea.  So let's get up off the recliners and lobby our city councilors NOW, NOW.  Don't wait, because I have a bad feeling about this one and be careful not to fall for the Penquis trick.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | May 09, 2017 10:44

Prepare for a ramming.

Posted by: Harry Fitzgerald | May 09, 2017 09:27

I hope if this school is converted to housing, that part of the sale agreement stipulate that it is affordable housing that low to middle income people can afford, and not something that only high income earners can afford. Rockland needs more affordable housing, not high-rent housing. People earning $8-$12 per hour cannot afford a rent at $1000 and up per month.

Nancy Fitzgerald

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