Housing and Economic Development in Freeport

Keith McBride on January 27, 2021 in Downtown, Housing

The housing market remained incredibly strong through 2020.  Listings in Freeport were few and far between, and properties all over Maine sold above asking prices.  Recent data released by the Maine Association of Realtors bears this out.   

 

The demand is up. The supply is down.  Everyone knows what happens next.

 

In Freeport, we had an extensive development proposal in phases for an additional 530 (+/-) units.  The community was loud and clear that it was not the right project for Freeport.  The process of receiving development proposals and vetting through planning/project review boards who take in public input worked exactly as it should.  In that process, we heard a lot about environmental sustainability and about downtown.  FEDC was listening.

 

As it relates to downtown, we took this feedback and brought in additional information that we heard from residential realtors and housing developers.  In short, what we heard is that more downtown housing units would be good for Freeport, and we learned more about why redevelopment of underutilized spaces and new housing development has not yet happened downtown.

 

The mission of FEDC is to partner with the town to promote responsible sustainable economic growth that strengthens and diversifies the economic base and enhances the quality of life and unique character of Freeport.  For the past year and a half, we have been primarily focused on downtown Freeport.  It is clear that downtown housing would have an economic development benefit for Freeport.   We have had extensive conversations about supporting and finding opportunities to develop more downtown housing.   We do believe non-downtown housing development could be beneficial but within limitations, including an analysis of its impact on municipal services.  Since it is outside of our purview, we don’t have the information to form a better understanding of the impact of non-downtown housing on Freeport.  We support more fact-finding and a continuing public engagement through the proper municipal boards and processes, and believe that these processes put in place will result in the best possible decision for the town.