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August 6, 2018

Mount Desert community group picks architect for workforce housing

Mount Desert 365, a community-based organization promoting long-term economic vitality in the town of Mount Desert, has selected the wife-and-husband team of interior designer Terri Scott and architect Gregg Scott to design the nonprofit's first two workforce houses planned for construction in Northeast Harbor.

According to an Mount Desert 365 news release, this is the organization's first home-ownership site to be developed, located on Summit Road in Northeast Harbor.

Gregg Scott, a senior partner of RLPS Architects in Lancaster, Pa., and part-time resident of Northeast Harbor, told the Mount Desert Islander he enjoys the challenge of renovating old homes or designing new ones in a way that makes use of every square inch of space.

"Our philosophy is to be conscious of what it is you really need in terms of living space versus what you want," he said.

In keeping with the town's land use zoning ordinances, the plan for this site is two modestly sized and affordable dwellings, with covenants in place to keep them affordable in perpetuity for families with median incomes.

Gregg Scott is a senior partner with a 35-year tenure with RLPS Architects. He and his wife have been part-time residents of Northeast Harbor for the past 12 years, traveling between Maine and Pennsylvania throughout the year. He has built or renovated six modest but notable residences in Northeast Harbor.

To start off the process for the Mount Desert 365 development, Gregg Scott recently led a focus group of individuals interested in home ownership in Northeast Harbor. The group included a range of ages and family composition, professions and incomes, and a mix of statuses as owners or renters, on and off of Mount Desert Island. Insights regarding features of an affordable home will help inform the design process for the Mount Desert 365 site.

In June, Mount Desert 365 selected A4 Architects to design a new mixed-use building at 6 Old Firehouse Lane in Northeast Harbor. It will be 10,000 square feet with office space and three apartments. It will house administrative offices of both Mount Desert 365 and the Maine Seacoast Mission, which last year announced plans to sell its long-time home, a former estate in Northeast Harbor. There will be office space available for other tenants.

Earlier this month, Maine Seacoast Mission announced it's cutting the asking price for La Rochelle, the Bar Harbor mansion that currently houses its headquarters. The Bangor Daily News reported the organization decided to subdivide the waterfront property and to lower the asking price by nearly $2 million, from $6.3 million to $4.5 million.

Elected officials around Mount Desert Island have identified the need for more affordable, year-round housing as a top issue. In 2017, the Mount Desert Islander reported that an Island Housing Trust survey found that 70% of people working on MDI live off-island; and that many of those people could afford houses in the $250,000 range, but the average cost of a house in Bar Harbor is $400,000.

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