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March 10, 2021

After delay, Cottages at Pine Meadow development is sprouting fast in Saco

four people, three white men and a white woman, stand in front of under-construciton houses Photo / Maureen Milliken Developers of Cottages at Pine Meadows in Saco, from left, Ron Goddard; Mark McClure of GenX Capital Partners; Paula Yellem, of GenX Capital; and Cash Wiseman of Keller Williams.

At the beginning of January, the site for the planned Cottages at Pine Meadow was quiet as developers waited for final approval from the Saco Planning Board on an ownership change.

Mark McClure of GenX Capital Partners, and developer Ron Goddard closed on the property in October. Former owners Sandra Murray and Bill Koch, of Old Orchard Beach, obtained approval of the 32-house development for owners 55 and over from the board earlier in the year. All the new owners needed to go ahead was change of ownership approval, which was scheduled for Nov. 16.

But nothing really happens when it's expected in the pandemic era, and the vote was delayed.

"We couldn't do anything," Goddard said Tuesday at the site, as the sound of construction buzzed and banged in the background. "We just had to wait."

That approval finally came Jan. 7, and things have been busy at 994 Portland Road, just south of the Scarborough line. The development features 24 new-build small one- and two-bedroom houses, and renovations to the tiny mid-century vacation cabins on the site.

Besides the model house, which has been on the site since last year, two more have gone up, with foundations poured for others. Renovations at all the existing cabins are underway.

The late-winter mud and construction isn't keeping buyers away from the weekly open houses at the model unit.

So far, eight of the 24 new-builds have been sold, with another five to seven reserved, McClure said.

"We are getting so many calls," he said. "People want a second home, people are downsizing and want a new primary home, you name it."

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Cabins from the former Pine Meadow motor court are being renovated, with 24 new houses being built behind them at The Cottages at Pine Meadow in Saco.

A wide mix of buyers

There is no typical buyer — some plan to live there year-round, some are snowbirds who'll rent it out in the winter, some are looking at it as a weekend or vacation home, said Paula Wallem, of GenX Capital Partners.

The minimum rental is for four months, so there's no danger of the development, which is a couple miles from the beach and a quick drive to Portland, from turning into a short-term rental mecca.

House ownership is limited to those who are age 55 or older, though residents aren't limited to that age. There will also be two handicap-accessible houses that are for buyers of any age who qualify.

Wallem said buyers "are from all over." So far, houses have been sold to people from Florida, Virginia, California, Massachusetts and Russia. The Russian buyer didn't speak English. "We had to talk through a translator," Wallem said. 

But, despite the pandemic-fueled influx of out-of-state buyers looking for southern Maine property, local buyers are also in the mix, the developers said.

A few people have bought them without seeing the model in person, Goddard said. 

The development is not only benefiting from a very hot southern Maine real estate market, but also from prices well below the area median.

"There's a real need for this," said Cash Wiseman, of Keller Williams in Portland, who's handling the sales. "People can't get new construction is this area now for that price."

He said he's gotten more than 300 leads on the houses. "It's just a very hot property," he said.

Across the street, the under-development Cascade Falls is listing houses and condos ranging from $460,000 to $590,000. The Cumberland County median home price is $360,000.

The Pine Meadow new-build homes range from $169,000 to $269,000, with sizes from 340 square feet to 840. The renovated cabins, which are from 250 to 300 square feet, haven't gone on the market yet, but the studio-size spaces will be listed for between $159,000 and $160,000.

Wallem said it'll likely be a different type of buyers who goes for the renovated cabins once they're listed — those looking for a vacation landing spot.

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Construction began on The Cottages at Pine Meadow in Saco in January, with plans for 24 new houses and renovations to seven cabins already at the former motor court site.

'Things are going up fast'

Despite the delayed start, things are on track for occupation in June and landscaping and paving to be done by the end of the year.

"We pretty much started 45 days ago," Goddard said. Despite that, and major delays for things like appliances and price hikes for electrical wire and other necessary items, construction has continued at a steady pace. At one point, they were looking at appliance delays from four to eight months because of COVID-19 related slowdowns.

Goddard and Wallem said they connected with Lowe's on appliance and other construction issues, and that has smoothed the process. When they work with owners, finishes, appliances and more have to be available at Lowe's, Wallem said.

The quick build has been helped by the size of the houses, Goddard said. 'It's easier to get subcontractors when the jobs are this small, they can do them quick then go on to something else," he said.

Carpenter Jeff Berube is framing houses by himself, in some cases, Goddard said. "We have some great people working here and these are going up fast."

The end result will be a tidy grouping of the seven original cabins on the lane at the entrance, and a cluster of the new builds behind them.

Courtesy / GenX Capital Partners
A rendering shows the completed Cottages at Pine Meadow, in Saco, foreground; the ocean can be seen in the distance.

'Phone hasn't stopped ringing'

The development is in an area of Saco that's long been home to farm fields, motor courts, Aquaboggon, Funtown and a scattering of other businesses. But it's an area that's quickly being developed.

Besides the Cascade Falls residential development across the street, there's also adjacent commercial development. And next to that, Hancock Lumber just opened a large showroom and lumber yard at 991 Portland Road, on the site of the old Cascade Inn and Restaurant.

Still, McClure said the complex won't feel like it's on a major thoroughfare. It's surrounded on two sides by a working farm's meadow and on the third by a grove of mature pines. The side that fronts on Route 1 will be buffered with trees and landscaping.

Each house has one parking spot per bedroom, and there will be a 17-space guest parking area near the entrance. Owners pay a $175 a month association fee for landscaping and plowing, and are free to plant their own gardens in the space behind their house.

For those who can't afford an ocean view, they can take a five-minute drive and be at the beaches of Pine Point or Old Orchard Beach. 

While there's a recent trend for large new-build homes, with many out-of-state buyers wanting to be right on the water, The Cottages developers said there's a market for their homes, too.

"People want to be in Maine, they like the size and price," Wallem said. She said people get "very excited" at the amenities, like a loft that several buyers have said will be great for when their grandchildren visit.

There are nine floor plans, full basements in the new builds, stackable washer-dryer hookups and heat pumps.

"People love them when they see them online," Wallem said. "It's been a lot of Zoom calls. The phone hasn't stopped ringing."

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