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Updated: September 29, 2021

Big ambitions for little space in Yarmouth

Courtesy / Nate Green A rendering of Yarmouth Commons.

Childhood friends Nate Green and Chris Marshall have big plans for a small lot.

Using a 15,000-square-foot lot in Yarmouth, the two will build 18 apartments, three commercial spaces, a public patio and parking.

“It doesn’t look like much but we see the potential,” Green told Mainebiz.

“It’s a weird, scrubby little lot that no one expected would turn into much,” Marshall said. “The town is definitely supportive of putting something beautiful there.”

Serving as both developers and general contractors of the project called Yarmouth Commons, Green and Marshall want to bring market-rate apartments to Yarmouth, as well as provide an outdoor space for the public.

The apartments will be small, in the range of 600- to 700-square feet, and include efficiency and one-bedrooms. The completion date is targeted for May 2022. Rental prices have not been set yet, but will reflect market rates, Green said. 

“We were working with economies of scale. We had to fit a specific amount of apartments to make it work financially,” Green said. “There’s a housing affordability crisis in southern Maine. We need to create as much housing as possible and bring higher density projects into town. It’s critical to keep housing affordable to regular people.”

Marshall said he expects the apartments to appeal to people leaving bigger urban areas to come to Maine. 

“It’s an accessible price point. And that’s the size apartment they’re used to. They want walkable towns and space. We think young professionals will be attracted to this,” Marshall said.

There also will be three commercial spaces. Two will be 500 square feet and one space will be 1,000 square feet. There will be 21 parking spaces behind the project.

A public, outdoor space will connect to the Beth Condon Pathway, which is part of the East Coast Greenway, a trail system extending from Calais to Key West, Fla. Green envisions the outdoor space boasting public art, native plants and natural benches.

“We want Yarmouth residents to walk or ride their bikes along Main Street and stop at our space and hang out. We’re hoping for a coffee shop or cafe tenant to give people a destination and place to relax,” Green said.

The development is bordered by U.S. Route 1 and Portland Street. Train tracks behind the site have been dormant for years. Green said he hopes the tracks will be part of a rail-to-trail system connecting Portland to Lewiston.

The hardest part of the project so far has been securing access to the development, which involved getting a right of way from the Department of Transportation to develop the side of the street and moving telephone poles and facing pushback from the community about potential traffic coming into and out of the development, Green said. 

‘We’ve definitely seen some public pushback about traffic and the entrance, and the density. But with the new character based code of development written by the town, we were able to say, ‘This is exactly what was envisioned. We’re exemplifying the walkable Main Street-type feel and the character-based development code,’” Green said.

Green said he has 10 years of development experience and has 100 units across 30 properties from Biddeford to Bath. Most of those projects were small, such as converting a church in Bath into apartments or buying foreclosed properties and redeveloping them. 

“This is the biggest project so far,” Green said.

Marshall, meanwhile, is working on Yarmouth Commons as his side gig. He works full-time in product management for Mars Corp., the candymaker.

Both Green and Marshall grew up as neighbors in York. Both are now based in Portland.

Yarmouth Commons has broken ground and framing should start going up next week. Green and Marshall started working on the project in April 2020. The project is financed by Norway Savings Bank. Green and Marshall raised $730,000 from various investors who hold an equity stake in the project. The total value of the project was not disclosed.

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