Midway through its renovation of a house and barn into apartments for its clients to live independently at an affordable rate, Mobius Inc. invited neighbors and community members to an open house at 21 Academy Hill Road on Saturday, Sept. 30.
The primary reasons behind the Damariscotta-based social-services agency’s purchase and renovation of the property is to offer quality housing for its clients at affordable rates, according to Mobius Inc. Executive Director Rebecca “Becca” Emmons.
“For a large majority of our clients, it’s impossible to find housing locally that they can afford with what they make,” Emmons said. “We wanted to help meet that need.”
Emmons, along with Director of Finance and Administration Katherine Hunt and Erin Grimshaw, the project manager, appeared before the Newcastle Planning Board in January and February to talk about the organization’s plans for the property. The planning board approved the plan, contingent on a fire safety plan for the property.
Mobius decided to refer to the house and barn as Chandler House after Arlene Cole wrote about the history of the property and its former residents, the Chandler family, in her “Newcastle History” column in The Lincoln County News, Emmons said.
When renovations to the house and the barn are complete, the property will have apartments for seven adults. Five will live in apartments in the three-story house, and two will live in apartments in the barn, which will be customized to meet the needs of visually impaired tenants, Emmons said.
All the apartments will have an open floor concept, and the units on the ground floor will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Within the main house will be a large meeting room where residents can gather. The hope is that tenants will form a community of their own, Emmons said.
“This whole project is about building a home, and we hope that people who move in here see it as such,” Emmons said. The goal is to complete the apartments in the main house and barn by April.
The contractor, Pemaquid-based Bolster Builders, has worked hard to preserve the original exterior appearance of the building, Emmons said. Early in the renovation, it was discovered that the foundation of the ell connecting the house to the barn was beyond repair. Bolster Builders rebuilt the foundation and is still ahead of schedule.
The open house drew more than 100 people to the property, many of whom were neighbors wanting to learn more about the progress of the project.
“Many people want to know how we’re merging the old with the new,” Emmons said.
The open house also kicked off Mobius’ “$21K in 21 Days for 21 Academy Hill” campaign, a fundraiser that will help offset the tenants’ rent expenses. Approximately $21,000-$26,000 will need to be raised annually, dependending on the cost of utilities, Emmons said.
To learn more about Mobius Inc., go to mobiusinc.org.