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Updated: January 2, 2023

Habitat for Humanity York County buys first permanent home

industrial building with parking lot Courtesy / The Dunham Group A former machine shop in Kennebunk is being transformed for offices and a retail shop for Habitat for Humanity York County.

The purchase of its first permanent home — right next to its current leased space — gives Habitat for Humanity York County more space as it grows and a better opportunity to anticipate and control its costs.

“It had been a longer-term goal of ours to purchase a permanent home,” said Amy Nucci, the nonprofit’s executive director. “But when the building came up for sale on the lot just adjacent to ours — and it as frontage on Route 1 — it seemed like the right time.”

Habitat for Humanity York County bought a 14,729-square-foot industrial building at 123 York St. in Kennebunk from Trenholm Industries for $1.55 million. 

Justin Lamontagne and Sam LeGeyt from the Dunham Group brokered the sale.

“When this opportunity came up, we got it in front of them right away,” said LeGeyt, who represented Habitat in the deal.

The building was formerly a machine shop. 

The location will house the nonprofit’s administrative and construction offices and its retail operation, called Restore.

building front with signs
Courtesy / Habitat for Humanity York County
The Restore shop, seen here in its current location, will have more space in its new spot.

“Our  mission is to create affordable housing opportunities,” said Nucci. “Now, more than ever, there’s a need for our work. We’ve been working on strategies to increase our impact in York County.”

Restore is one of the nonprofit’s fundraising streams that supports the work. 

It won’t take too much in the way of renovations to get into the new location. 

“We’re hoping it won’t be too in-depth,” she said. “We’re planning to make some modest renovations to the interior to get in there this spring.”

As a house-building organization, it makes sense that staff and volunteers will do some of the construction work themselves, with some of it subbed out.

Renovations will involve removing some walls to open the retail floor a bit more. 

“But it appears we can use the existing offices pretty much the way they are,” she said.

The new spot is over 3,000 square feet more than the existing lease of 11,000 square feet. The additional square-footage will help the nonprofit increase its retail sales floor.

The purchase was financed by Kennebunk Savings Bank.

“They were an incredible partner for us and part of the reason it was feasible to do this right now,” said Nucci.

Renovations will be financed through fundraising.

Habitat for Humanity York County was founded in 1983. Up until 2013, it was almost completely volunteer run.

“We’ve been growing a lot in the past nine or so years,” Nucci said. 

That included opening the Restore retail shop, which has helped support the growth of the housing mission. The local nonprofit builds on average two homes per year through its homeownership program. It also has an aging-in-place program that serves 25 low-income senior homeowners by making modifications to their homes designed to help keep them safer and warmer. 

house with porch
Courtesy / Habitat for Humanity York County
Habitat for Humanity York County’s mission includes an aging-in-place program that modifies low-income homes for safety and energy-efficiency.

Overall, the York County chapter of the national nonprofit has served 33 households through its homeownership program. The number of houses built is slightly less because homeowners sometimes leave and the house then goes to another family, Nucci explained.

On the administrative side, the York County chapter has four full-time and one part-time employees. The Restore operation has about eight full- and part-time staff members. The chapter engages about 180 volunteers per year through Restore and the homebuilding program. 

The plan is to grow, Nucci said.

“We’re working to increase our housing production over the next few years,” she said. “Buying the building was critical piece of that, to allow us to expand our retail profits that support our housing mission, and also to control our expenses.”

Restore sells items such as used furniture, appliances, household goods such as lighting and décor, hardware and building materials, all donated by local individuals and businesses. 

The chapter is planning two  projects this year in Sanford, where it owns three parcels of land that will support the construction of five homes.

It’s just about to finish up construction on the second of two homes in the Cape Porpoise section of Kennebunkport. 

“It’s a lovely spot, on land donated to us by a private individual who believes there should be more homeownership opportunities in Kennebunkport,” she said.

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