Maine Smart Growth Awards

 

designed to recognize the diverse activities that
contribute to smart growth and serve as real-life 
illustrations of the benefits it brings.

2019 Award Winners

Outstanding Project Award: Millinocket Real Estate Initiative/The Northern Forest Center

The Millinocket Housing Initiative was launched by the Northern Forest Initiative in 2017 to support the Millinocket community by improving the quality of downtown housing to attract and retain workers and families. The Initiative acquired and renovated ten strategically selected, distressed properties in the downtown that presented high visibility opportunities to inspire further investment and downtown development.

The Initiative targeted a focal area in the heart of the community to connect the main street business district, mill site, elementary school, hospital, library and more, which contributes to a more vibrant and walkable downtown. In coordination with the hospital, local non-profits, the Town of Millinocket, and others, the Housing Initiative is a keystone of the community’s housing strategy and a major contributor to the overall revitalization of the community.

The Northern Forest Center integrates economic, community, and environmental principles to gives rise to vibrant communities in a new forest future across Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York.

Demonstrable Commitment to Smart Growth: Delilah Poupore, Heart of Biddeford

Since 2011, Delilah Poupore has been the Executive Director of the Heart of Biddeford; one of Maine’s most successful and innovative Main Street organizations. In that role, Delilah has become one of Biddeford’s most visible and credible advocates for positive change, inclusive decision-making, and a dynamic and a vibrant downtown that benefits the entire community.

A once-thriving mill town that fell on hard times with the closure of the mills, Biddeford is now one of the fastest growing and most desirable communities in Southern Maine and has experienced a surge of economic revitalization. Delilah has played a key role in promoting, encouraging and facilitating much of this renewed vitality and growth by spearheading several initiatives such as The Heart & Soul project, the City’s first Main Street Challenge, the Adopt-a-Park program, Music in the Park, the annual Downtown Holiday Festival, and the Halloween Trick-or-Treating event.

Delilah has been called “the glue that holds downtown together” and is universally appreciated for her enthusiasm, energy, and leadership.

Outstanding Project Award: Bethel Community Forest/Mahoosuc Pathways

Mahoosuc Pathways, in collaboration with the Trust for Public Land and the Northern Forest Center, the Town of Bethel, and area citizens and donors, piloted the creation of the expansive, 978-acre Bethel Community Forest.

In 2019, Mahoosuc Pathways purchased what is now the Bethel Community Forest on behalf of the Town of Bethel. This parcel had previously been targeted for housing development. Mahoosuc Pathways now manages the property for conservation, recreation and wildlife, providing infinite opportunity for recreational trail connectivity, education, recreation, health, and wellness. It protects an important local snowmobile trail, protects traditional hunting lands, and protects one of the most productive deer wintering areas in the state.

The Bethel Community Forest project presents an excellent example of how public land preservation can be achieved through the community forest model and serves as an example for other Maine communities to study and replicate.  

Outstanding Project Award: Parris Terraces
Awarded to: Kaplan Thompson Architects

When the City of Portland moved their Public Works department out of West Bayside, Kaplan Thompson Architects was selected to build twenty workforce housing apartments with no State or Federal subsidy.

Kaplan Thompson applied Passive House techniques to create an optimized cost-effective system that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of residents, while requiring no fossil fuels to heat or cool. The project has a predicted overall energy use of half of a typical apartment building, all without renewable energy systems installed. Parris Terraces is located near the tidal basin Back Cove, recently named an EPA area of concern. To protect this natural resource, Kaplan Thompson’s designed a system where all storm water from the building is treated onsite through a storm water rain garden of native plantings.

Parris Terraces created 23 housing units, affordable to people in a middle-income segment of the market largely unmet in the current Portland housing market. The project demonstrates that today’s “starter home” can be downtown, stylish, efficient, and affordable to working people.

Outstanding Project Award: Charter Oaks Village Cooperative

Charter Oaks Village Cooperative is a manufactured housing community, partly in Arundel and partly in Biddeford, where the residents own their home but rent their lot. The community consists of 40 households who, for the most part, earn well below the median income for York County.

For almost 50 years, this park was owned and operated by a local “mom-and-pop” operator who took good care of the community and knew and cared about the residents, but they needed to retire and sell. The park was sold to a private equity investor from Las Vegas, who immediately jacked up the rents and had plans to sell it off quickly for a large profit.

In June 2019, after a concerted community organizing effort, the residents of this park came together and purchased the community to operate it as a resident-owned cooperative. By doing so, the resident homeowners took control of the land that sits beneath their homes and now work together to operate the park on a cooperative basis, allowing the community to permanently remain affordable. 

The success of Charter Oaks brings positive attention and renewed interest in the preservation and development of compact neighborhoods of manufactured housing. Reducing the stigma of “trailer parks” will put one of the most practical, cost-effective and resource efficient housing and development options back into the conversation about affordable housing, climate change, and walkable communities.

 

2018 Award Winners

Brian Kent
Lifetime Achievement – 
Contributions to Land Use Planning in Maine

Brian Kent’s work in Maine over 40 years demonstrates a strong commitment to smart growth. In 1976, he was responsible for the first Comprehensive Plan for LURC. He authored the award-winning Land Use Handbook. He organized the first major downtown conference in Maine, MainStreets Future, and as a consultant, he produced over 30 downtown plans as well as co-authoring several important publications illustrating GrowSmart principles.

 

 

Denis Lachman and Kiya Smith
502 Deering Center – Outstanding Project

502 Deering Center is a mixed-use project in the heart of Deering Center, which demonstrates that it is possible, on a limited budget, to successfully reintroduce the historic form of a four-story mixed-use building on a compact lot. This concept has proven practical, flexible and attractive for more than a century and a half.

The project features two ground-floor businesses, a ground-floor live/work studio, six total apartments on two upper floors, a village pocket park, and onsite parking.  Construction was                                                                                    completed in spring 2018.

 

Colby College, President David Greene
Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons – Outstanding Project  
Accepted by Paul Ureneck & Brian Clark

Colby College’s ambitious plan to revitalize downtown Waterville began with a 102,000 square foot Downtown Commons facility, which yields newly created residential units for 200 students (and faculty), provides additional education space and
public/community civic meeting areas, along with new commercial-retail spaces on the first floor of Main Street.

With widened sidewalks, added streetscape amenities, and an integrated Complete Streets design, Colby’s plan minimizes new auto traffic and focuses on diversifying transit options. This includes implementing a new jitney shuttle between the Downtown Commons, Colby College, and the downtown. As 60% of students have no car, most will walk, bike, and use the shuttle.

Windham Town Council
21st Century Downtown Zoning – Outstanding Public Policy
Accepted by Ben Smith of North Star Planning & Tom Bartell of Town of Windham

With few exceptions, new residential development in the downtown was specifically not allowed under Windham’s old code, as it was feared it would take up too much valuable
real estate that could be used for commercial purposes. The new ordinance allows many types of residential housing, creating more options for mixed-use and local businesses and extending the active hours of the downtown.

Changing the rules for how growth takes place in North Windham means new development can improve the downtown’s economic viability, making it more attractive, diverse and walkable. This will allow Windham’s commercial strip development to evolve into a new type of downtown for Windham and the region.

Portland Housing Authority 
Strategic Vision Plan- Outstanding Smart Growth Plan

Portland Housing Authority’s vision plan lays out a 20-year strategy to redevelop 1970s-era public housing into new, more integrated neighborhoods – ultimately doubling the city’s public housing portfolio with projects that vastly improve the urban design and energy efficiency of the properties. A key component of the plan is replacing the auto-oriented design of the current developments with mixed-use, higher-density buildings that prioritize pedestrian, bike and transit access. Parking lots, in particular, are targeted as priority development sites. The strategy also emphasizes the importance of increasing economic integration by adding new market-rate apartments mixed seamlessly with affordable homes.

City of Portland’s Public Works and Planning & Urban Development Departments
Franklin Street Redesign- Outstanding Smart Growth Plan
Accepted by Jeremiah Bartlett, City of Portland, and Markos Miller, Franklin Reclamation Authority

The Redesign Plan is a phased vision that will restore Franklin Street as a vibrant city-street integrated into the urban fabric. The plan converts an auto-centric design into a multi-modal corridor, improving safety and accessibility for all users. It creates the opportunity for redevelopment of land for housing and mixed-use development near existing infrastructure and services, turning a space to drive through into a place where people live, work, and recreate. The Franklin Redesign process began in reaction to a plan to widen Franklin Street. Neighborhood organizations and community groups formed the Franklin Reclamation Authority, which facilitated a consensus-based workshop in 2006. Outcomes of this workshop were shared with the City of Portland, which sought funding to create a more detailed plan.  Public engagement continued as a cornerstone of the study.

 

See more information about the projects in this slide presentation from the 2018 Summit: 2018 Maine Smart Growth Awards