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November 1, 2017

Senior community created from $6.5 million renovation of Falmouth school

Courtesy / Sea Coast Management
Courtesy / Sea Coast Management
This architect's rendering shows how the century-old Plummer School in Falmouth was transformed into Plummer Senior Living after a multi-million-dollar renovation.

The century-old Plummer School in Falmouth has been transformed into Plummer Senior Living, a new independent senior living community adjacent to OceanView at Falmouth Retirement Community, after a $6.5 million renovation.

The center, serving seniors 55 years and older, is set to open this month.

Sea Coast Management Co., started in 1989, purchased the school in 2013 from the town of Falmouth and contracted Developers Collaborative to carry out the project. Sea Coast is a developer, owner and operator of market rate senior living communities — including OceanView at Falmouth and Highland Green in Topsham.

The transformation of Plummer School was awarded the 2017 Maine Preservation Honor Award for efforts to preserve original architecture. Plummer Senior Living retains features of the original school, including the gym, which will serve as a community room, the theater stage, and elements of the classrooms throughout each residential unit. The center is pet-friendly and has four ADA accessible apartments available, a 24-hour maintenance line and on-site resident concierge in partnership with the Southern Maine Agency on Aging. Leasing opportunities are currently available.

Site is adjacent to OceanView

John Wasileski, Sea Coast founder and owner, told Mainebiz by phone that he started his career in the mid-1970s at Avesta Housing, then called York-Cumberland Housing, whose mission is to develop low- and moderate-income senior and family housing for York and Cumberland counties.

"From there, I realized I liked working in the development and management world for the mission of developing safe, decent and affordable housing for seniors," he said. "Plummer targets people with moderate incomes, whereas many senior program out there target people with higher incomes."

The project, on 2.5 acres, has 34 units ranging from 600 to 1,100 square feet, with rents starting at $1,200, he said. Half the units are in the original 22,000-square-foot school building and half are in a 20,000-square-foot brick-exterior addition constructed for this project.

The purchase price for the school was $750,000. Investment for renovation was $6.5 million. The project received a 20% tax credit, available through the Department of Interior for the rehabilitation of historic, income-producing buildings.

The purchase of the school made sense because it's adjacent to OceanView, he said.

"And we didn't want someone else to build something that would be a use that was incompatible to us," he said.

Extensive renovations

The school was in good condition at the time of purchase, Wasileski said.

"It was an old school, but fairly well kept up," he said. "The big thing is that when a school goes vacant, it needs to be heated, or else the walls get decayed and mildewed and the floors warp. But because the structure was heated and there was good security, it was in good shape."

The renovation included:

  • Repointing the brick exterior.
  • Replacing and repairing the existing school windows as needed.
  • Installing a new heating plant and electrical system.
  • Resanding the original hardwood floors.

Key characteristics of the project include:

  • Turning the gym into a common space with new bleachers.
  • Incorporating chalkboard trim that were in the hallways and classrooms into the residential units.
  • Keeping the original school doors and signage for things like the cafeteria and principals' office.
  • Keeping the original clock tower atop the building.

"So the cultural aspect of its history as a school were retained, as well as the physical aspects of bricks and mortar," he said.

Also developed was a sidewalk that connects Plummer and OceanView, weaving throughout the property and woods and integrated with a town common area adjacent to Plummer.

Wasileski said he sees plenty of need for affordable senior housing.

"There's not a lot of affordability in the greater Portland and Falmouth area for senior housing," he said.

Wasileski said he's also renovating the former Sisters of Mercy Motherhouse at 605 Stevens Ave. in Portland for affordable- and market-rate senior housing.

He expects those to be available for rent by late 2018.

Read more

Iconic Plummer School reopens as Plummer Senior Living after $6.5M rehab

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