The University of Maine at Augusta has an agreement to sell the four-acre parcel on Sunset Avenue to BangorHousing.
Bangor, Maine — Amid a critical affordable housing shortage in the state, a University of Maine System Board of Trustees committee today unanimously approved the sale of campus property in Bangor to enable the development of an affordable senior housing project.
The vote by the Trustees’ Finance, Facilities and Technology Committee recommending that the full Board authorize the University of Maine at Augusta to sell four acres to Bangor Housing Development Corporation
(BHDC) for the appraised value of $160,000 will be included in the consent agenda considered at a Jan. 29 meeting.
BHDC is the nonprofit affiliate of BangorHousing.
The undeveloped Sunset Avenue parcel is abutted by property already owned by BHDC and on which the City of Bangor has granted approval for the construction of a 50-unit sustainable apartment building for low-income seniors.
The university’s sale will nearly double the size of BHDC’s site, allowing the nonprofit to build additional housing for seniors and leverage the on-site amenities associated with the original project, including community rooms, gardens, broadband connectivity and support service providers.
“We are grateful for the initial support of University of Maine System Trustees and appreciative of our growing partnership with the University of Maine at Augusta,” said BangorHousing Development Director Cindy Witas. “This sale will turn a vacant property into vibrant housing for seniors, addressing a tremendous need in our
The Bangor campus became affiliated with UMA in 1995 and currently supports 40 degree programs including Dental Health (Hygiene, Assisting and Expanded Functions Dental Assisting) and Veterinary Technology. State-of-the-art dental and veterinary clinics there allow students in the region to prepare for the workforce and provide direct services to the community.
“We’re excited about this. We look forward to partnering with BangorHousing and serving the residents, including by expanding educational access and opportunities to them, like Senior College. It’s really a win-win,” UMA President Jenifer Cushman told Trustees at Wednesday’s meeting.
UMA plans to invest the proceeds of the sale into campus improvements, including lighting and security enhancements.
“I commend the University of Maine at Augusta for stepping up to assist a critical community partner with addressing the pressing need to develop more affordable housing,” said Board Chair Trish Riley. “In doing so, UMA is being both a good neighbor and a good steward of its physical plant and the taxpayer and tuition dollars that support and sustain that public asset.”
Beyond meeting the needs of Maine, the sale is also consistent with System commitments detailed in its new strategic plan, including to achieve fiscal and energy efficiencies through the reduction of unused or underutilized buildings and land.
For example, in 2022, UMS sold its interest in 16 Central St. in Bangor, which previously housed the System’s office and now houses the offices of Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness.
Riley said that at the nearby University of Maine, world-class researchers in the Advanced Structures and Composites Center are leading the way in developing innovative techniques for 3D-printing affordable housing units from wood waste and have partnered with Penquis to pilot a 3D-printed housing neighborhood for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
“I think this demonstrates the diverse ways our public universities serve the state and draw on their respective strengths and resources to collaborate to create comprehensive solutions to tackle challenges confronting Maine,” she said.
About the University of Maine System
Established in 1968, the University of Maine System (UMS) unites seven Maine’s distinctive public universities, comprising 10 campuses and numerous centers, in the common purpose of providing quality higher education while delivering on its traditional tripartite mission of teaching, research, and public service.
In 2020 UMS became the first and only statewide enterprise of public higher education in the country to transition to a unified accreditation for the system. Much different than a merger or consolidation, unified accreditation is a new operating model for the University of Maine System that removes the primary barrier to inter-institutional collaboration.
A comprehensive public institution of higher education, UMS serves more than 30,000 students annually and is supported by the efforts of more than 2,000 full-time and part-time faculty, more than 3,000 regular full-time and part-time staff, and a complement of part-time temporary (adjunct) faculty.
Reaching more than 500,000 people annually through educational and cultural offerings, the University of Maine System also benefits from more than two-thirds of its alumni population residing within the state; more than 123,000 individuals.
The System consists of seven main campuses: The University of Maine (UMaine), including its regional campus the University of Maine at Machias (UMaine Machias); the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA); the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF); the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK), the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI); and the University of Southern Maine (USM). The System also includes a UMA campus in Bangor, USM campuses in Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn, the University of Maine School of Law, and the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center.