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January 14, 2021

Furman Block officially opens in West Bayside

a seven story modern building on a city street Courtesy / Szanton Co. A ribbon cutting will be held for the mixed use buiding at 178 Kennebec St. in Portland today.

The 51-apartment Furman Block will officially open today with a ribbon-cutting ceremony that celebrates another completed project on former Portland Public Works Department property.

Developed by Szanton Co., the seven-story building has 51 mixed-income apartments for those age 55 and above, with street-level commercial space. Developer Ross Furman owns and manages the commercial space, and Szanton's property management arm, Saco Falls Management, manages the apartments. No tenant has yet been announced for Furman Block’s commercial space.

The building was designed by Archetype Architects and was built by Hebert Construction on the site of a former gravel lot used as parking for the city's public works vehicles. It's one of six former public works parcels sold to five local developers, who have built, or are building, a mix of residential and retail in the neighborhood.

Mayor Kate Snyder, who is scheduled to speak at the 2 p.m. ribbon-cutting, applauded the progress of the West Bayside redevelopment, particularly on the former public works property.

“It’s great to see the city’s decision to move the public works department out of Bayside paying dividends,” Snyder said in a news release.

When the city decided to move the Public Works Department to Canco Road in 2017, officials also decided to sell the property to small local developers who would undertake a variety of projects, rather than one developer with one big project. The result has been a mix of office, retail, restaurants and residential at 60 Parris St., 52, 65 and 82 Hanover St.; and 55 Portland St.

The Furman Block at 178 Kennebec St., is the only mixed-income residential project of the six, with 40 of the apartments reserved for those who make 60% or less of the city's median income. Parris Terraces, by Jack Soley, at 60 Parris St. has 23 workforce-priced condominiums and developer Tom Watson plans up to 171 apartments at 52 Hanover.

Watson's development of the former public works garage at 82 Hanover St. is home to Batson River Brewing & Distilling, Wilson County Barbecue. The Furman Block is also across the street from Leavitt & Sons Deli, which opened on Kennebec Street. in December 2017. 

Nathan Szanton, president of Szanton Co., said the Furman Block addresses a need. “With all the new bars and restaurants in Bayside, the need for affordable housing has become more acute,” he said. "We are delighted to add units of housing at a time when the city has never needed it more.”

Snyder said the addition of the apartments not only adds affordable housing stock, but also add vitality to the neighborhood "and makes Portland a more livable city."

Financing was provided by MaineHousing, Evernorth and the city of Portland. "I’m glad the city was able to provide financial support to make this project a reality, and I’m particularly pleased that the project includes six units set aside for long-term stayers coming out of Portland’s homeless shelters," Snyder said.

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