ULI Boston/New England Announces Findings from the Kittery and Berwick, Maine Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) on Workforce Housing and Transit Issues
Study Provides Recommendations for Addressing Lack of Affordable Workforce Housing and Traffic Congestion
BOSTON, MA (December 6, 2021) – The Boston/New England District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) announced today the release of its Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) report findings addressing housing affordability and transit challenges faced by personnel in the Towns of Kittery and Berwick, Maine as well as other jurisdictions across the region. The report aims to help communities develop new and diverse housing stock to address the lack of attainable workforce housing for those employees to desire to live closer to their place of work, particularly the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. ULI Boston/New England’s panel of industry professionals conducted the initial study of the region’s challenges from May 14-18, 2021, with the report on the panel’s findings published in fall 2021.
Jamie Simchik of Simchik Planning and Development co-chaired the panel. “There is tremendous opportunity to achieve smart growth in the communities of Berwick and Kittery” said Jamie. “The time is now to increase housing opportunities for the needs of today’s workforce and enhance transportation options to attract and retain a workforce keep they communities thriving in this beautiful corner of New England.”
The TAP report provides detailed redevelopment scenarios for two available parcels of land that the town of Kittery has designated as sites of interest. The panelists also analyzed a proposed Berwick mixed-use development site and offered specific policy and development suggestions to the municipalities. The TAP report also encouraged the Town of Berwick to implement deed-restricted housing for site development and for future projects, and to consider constructing an indoor transit hub. Suggestions for the Town of Kittery included updating zoning to increase redevelopment options, making a concerted effort to explore additional regional transit and carpool parking options, including consideration for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard to build additional structured parking at the installation.
According to Paul Schumacher, Executive Director of Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC),” Housing is of critical importance to our region’s economy and is one of the greatest challenges for local employers in Southern Maine. It’s increasingly difficult to recruit or retain workers with home prices at historic highs. SMPDC is looking at commuting patterns, costs of transportation and land use impacts to develop strategies and tools for our towns, but we need to see more collaboration with state and federal partners in the future.”
“We are excited to use what we learned through ULI’s efforts and work with our partners on a more robust regional transportation network and appropriate development to improve the quality of life along the seacoast. The Town of Kittery is committed to doing our part to encourage new mixed-use and residential development to meet the regional need for more diverse housing options. Redevelopment along major corridors like Route 1 that capitalizes on existing infrastructure will provide new opportunities close to major employers like the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.” added Adam Causey, Planning & Development Director for the Town of Kittery.
The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has a major impact on Southern Maine, contributing more than $1 billion in 2019 to the regional economy – a figure that has grown by 54 percent since 2017. In 2018, Kittery received federal funding from the US Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Local Defence Community Cooperation to undertake a Joint Land Use Study (JLUS) in collaboration with Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission, Stantec Consulting Services Inc completed the JLUS report in January 2020, identifying housing and transportation issues in the area and providing recommendations for the mitigation of those issues. The purpose of ULI Boston/New England’s TAP was to provide further guidance to the municipalities of Kittery and Berwick, in partnership with the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC), to provide recommendations on transportation and workforce housing that supplement and compliment the DOD’s JLUS on behalf of the Shipyard.
“I’m encouraged by the potential solutions identified in the technical assistance panel report,” said Shipyard Commander Capt. Daniel Ettlich. “Just as Portsmouth Naval Shipyard’s world-class workforce is dedicated to our essential national security mission of delivering submarine readiness, I am committed to continuing to work with our community partners to find new resolutions to our mutual challenges related to workforce housing, parking, and traffic.”
In addition to the potential redevelopment solutions the TAP proposed for the three sites, the panelists also addressed region-wide issues, and provided additional commentary on each individual site for the short, medium, and long term, from placemaking to the development of transportation hubs. To learn more about the panel’s finding and review the entire report, visit https://boston.uli.org/resources/.
About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute is a global nonprofit research and education organization that provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. ULI Boston/New England (boston.uli.org) focuses its efforts regionally and relies on the expertise of its members to promote best practices in the content pillars: Housing and Communities, Real Estate Finance and Investment, Sustainability and Economic Performance, Innovation in Development Practice, and Shaping Successful Cities and Regions.
About Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs)
Technical Assistance Panels (TAPs) offer communities expert advice to vexing land-use challenges. Charged with moving specific projects forward, a group of ULI real estate professionals bring their expertise into local communities through a one-day, low-cost consultation service. TAPs are organized for qualifying non-profits and local governments that may not have the resources to find solutions to development roadblocks. During this one-day program, a panel of six to twelve ULI members provide local stakeholders with the information and tools needed to move projects from the backburner to full steam ahead. Master plans, placemaking, achieving a broader tax base, market feasibility, and financial structuring are just a few examples of how a TAP can help a community tackle issues with land use. For more information, click here.