The owners of the former Wiscasset Primary School are exploring the potential redevelopment of the property as workforce housing and a memory care facility.
The Wiscasset Planning Board heard from the owners Monday, Dec. 9.
Stephen Barndollar, one of four partners in the development group that owns the 146 Gardiner Road property, presented a proposal to develop 36-46 one- and two-bedroom apartments and a memory care facility.
He told the planning board the presentation was not an application, but an effort to start an informal discussion on what they would like to do with the property.
Barndollar said the group conducted a market study to determine the greatest need in the area. The answer was rental housing.
Board Chair Karl Olson and other board members told Barndollar they would like to see the property redeveloped. However, town zoning requires 20,000 square feet of land for each dwelling unit and the 11.6-acre property is not large enough for the number of units they would like to create.
Jon Williams, another partner in the group and a Westport Island resident, asked the planning board for suggestions on what the owners could do with the property and what the planning board would support.
Olson said the board could not provide such advice. “We have no application to approve or deny,” he said.
Olson suggested that the owners talk with Town Manager John O’Connell about a zoning amendment to allow for the redevelopment as presented.
Olson said the selectmen would have to approve any proposal to amend the ordinance, then direct the ordinance review committee to draft the amendment. Once ready, the amendment would require a vote of the townspeople.
During a telephone interview the next day, Barndollar said the partners plan to move forward with the redevelopment of the property if they can work something out with the town and if they have the support of the townspeople.
Barndollar, of Portsmouth, N.H., would like to hear from residents about what they would like to see at the location. To make a suggestion, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The development group, JSJ Holdings LLC, bought the property from the town for $505,000 in January 2017. Barndollar is the managing shareholder in the company.
JSJ Holdings initially examined plans to convert the building into 20-25 one- or two-bedroom apartments for senior or general housing, or both.
The property was listed for sale again in August 2018. On Tuesday, Dec. 10, it did not show up in listings of real estate for sale in Wiscasset.
The school closed in 2015.
Barn House Grill
The planning board accepted as complete a site plan review application for a new restaurant and bar in the former Simpson’s Ocean Fresh Seafood building at 690 Bath Road.
A site walk will take place at noon, Monday, Dec. 16, with a public hearing at 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 23.
Michael Collins, Daniel Dyer, and Dana Long plan to renovate the building and open the Barn House Grill, which will serve American and Mexican food.
The planning board tabled a site plan review application from Christopher Juntura for a brewery and tasting room at the former location of Naked Leather, 568 Bath Road. The applicant is waiting for a letter from the Maine State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Historic preservation ordinance
The planning board will hold a public hearing on proposed amendments to the historic preservation ordinance at 7 p.m., Monday, Dec. 23.