2013-11-15 / Front Page

Town ponders seasonal cottages

Arundel officials discuss possibility of using TIF district for project
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

ARUNDEL – The Economic Development Committee met with Jim Damicis, senior vice president for Camoin Associates, a Scarborough-based economic development firm, along with independent contractor Joe Paolini on Tuesday night to further discuss forming the town’s first option of a Tax Increment Financing district to fund construction of the seasonal Arundel Kennebunkport Cottage Preserve. Arundel has no TIF districts.

Housing units numbering approximately 260 would be constructed on 195 acres between Portland Road and Mountain Road, just north of Fritz’s Tire and Timeless Classics.

The size of the units would range from 850 to 1,350 square feet and would be valued, on average, at $220,000.

In addition to the housing units, a 9.2 parcel fronting Route 1 would provide commercial and retail space for a year-round establishment such as a post office, Paolini said.

Damicis explained how a TIF could be advantageous for a municipality. “It allows municipalities to ‘shelter’ increases in valuation resulting from economic develop- ment and affordable housing projects from state valuation increases for up to 30 years,” he said.

“At full build-out, the development (land and building for both the commercial and seasonal properties) is estimated by the developer to be valued at $58,390,000, or an increment of $57,674,000 from current value,” Damicis said.

With a TIF, Arundel would avoid estimated tax revenue losses, or tax shifts, of approximately $12.5 million, Damicis said. “An estimated $10 million in net revenues to the town during this 25-year period with a TIF compares to $7.5 million without a TIF,” he said.

Paolini told the committee that his cottage designs are different from nearby seasonal cottage resorts such as Summer Villages in Wells or Sea Glass Village in Oqunguit.

“We tried to do something unique that no one else has and sell it to a different audience,” he said.

In addition to the housing units, the commercial and retail space, and amenities around the units – a community center, a pool with a waterfall – the acreage would house multiple walking trails with direct access to the Eastern Trail, as well as an untouched bit of land that would remain preserved, Paolini said.

“We’re only developing about 100 acres of the parcel; the rest will stay green,” Paolini said.

When asked about the name of the cottages, Arundel Kennebunkport, Paolini told the committee that Kennebunkport was an internationally recognized town, and that the association was clearly for marketing purposes.

Committee member Sam Hull asked Paolini, “What’s drawing you to Arundel?”

“Honestly, it’s one of the most magnificent sites I’ve ever come across,” Paolini said.

The town plans to hold another informational, public session before the TIF is presented in a referendum vote. Damicis reminded the committee that the TIF has to be approved by the end of the tax year (March 31) before the financing period can start, which would require a February referendum vote.

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