In an effort to expand its ability to provide transitional housing to individuals and families in need, Stepping Stone Housing Inc. recently purchased property on Biscay Road in Damariscotta.
The property contains a commercial building and a single-family home, each with space to add apartments, and a six-bay garage the nonprofit plans to eventually convert into inn-like short-term housing for the homeless.
The nonprofit has worked to establish transitional housing in Damariscotta since 2013, when it purchased the Blue Haven property at the corner of Hodgdon and Pleasant streets. There are currently six adults and one child living on the property, according to Stepping Stone Housing Inc. Executive Director Marilee Harris. The nonprofit has submitted a proposal to the Damariscotta Planning Board to replace most of the buildings on the property.
In addition, Stepping Stone started looking for additional property to purchase with funds it had raised, Harris said.
The Stepping Stone board was in the midst of looking at properties this summer when Mariellen Whelan, of Newcastle, had a conversation with Susan Pilsbury, of Damariscotta, about the nonprofit.
Both women volunteer with the Ecumenical Homeless Prevention Council of Damariscotta and Newcastle, Harris said.
Pilsbury told Whelan she had been trying to sell her property, at 53 and 57 Biscay Road, for the past 10 years. Whelan passed the information on to Harris, who toured the property with the Stepping Stone board.
“We looked at it and thought it would work well for us and what we’re trying to do,” Harris said.
In early October, Stepping Stone made an offer of $239,000 for the property, which Pilsbury accepted. The nonprofit was able to close on the property in less than a month, thanks to First National Bank and Newcastle Square Realty, Harris said.
“It was really the community support behind this that made it happen,” Harris said. “This would not have happened as quickly or as easily as it did without it.”
The 1.8-acre property includes three buildings: a commercial space currently home to Custom Fitness Personal Training, a 1,254-square-foot home, and a six-bay garage.
The money from the commercial space at 57 Biscay Road will help Stepping Stone keep up with the costs of operating the property, Harris said.
Stepping Stone plans to renovate the back of the commercial building to add an apartment, Harris said. Catholic Charities Maine has volunteered to assist with the renovation.
The two-bedroom house has a full kitchen, bathroom, and laundry, Harris said. The house is ready to have someone move in, and the nonprofit is accepting applications from families in need of transitional or short-term housing.
At some point in the future, Stepping Stone hopes to convert the attic into an efficiency apartment, Harris said.
The six-bay garage will also undergo construction. Dependent on cost, Harris said Stepping Stone plans to create short-term efficiency units, similar in layout to an inn.
“We have homeless people who might just need a place to stay overnight,” Harris said. “These units wouldn’t be used for long-term. It would be like a hotel.”
In addition to its plans for the Biscay Road property, Stepping Stone also hopes to continue its work on its other two properties in Damariscotta and Bristol.
A 4.96-acre property at 1393 Bristol Road, just south of the village of Bristol Mills, needs a new septic system before Stepping Stone builds any additional housing units, Harris said. One person now lives on the property.
On the Blue Haven property in Damariscotta, Stepping Stone plans to build five new two-bedroom homes of approximately 700 square feet each. A small cottage on the property will remain, while the nonprofit will remove other structures.
The Damariscotta Planning Board will hold a public hearing about Stepping Stone’s proposal for the Blue Haven property Monday, Dec. 5. The hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Damariscotta town office.