Augusta city officials recently signed-off on a new 38-unit affordable housing development on Western Avenue that’s designed to ease the housing shortage and improve a prominent eyesore.

Matt Morrill of Mastway Development addressed the council Sept. 15 to provide further details about his project at 99 Western Ave., a large cluster of vacant buildings that haven’t been used in several years.

Morrill plans to tear down the buildings to make way for units that will remain affordable for 45 years and is targeted to people earning at or below 60% of the area median income. 

For Augusta households, that’s currently $38,842 and for individuals, it’s $27,158, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In today’s dollars, that means the maximum rent would be $843 for studio units and $903 for one-bedroom units.

“I think it’s going to deliver a very nice project, it’s going to look great, it’s going to take an eyesore away from the city of Augusta and provide much needed affordable rental housing,” Morrill said.

The council gave unanimous approval to the project just two days after the Planning Board granted final approval.

The council approved a 30-year tax increment financing agreement that reimburses Morrill 61% of the new value created by the development, according to city economic development director Keith Luke.

That translates to about $1.1 million over the life of the agreement, with the city getting just over $504,000 in the same period.

“I’m really thrilled about this project and I congratulate you on continuing it forward,” Councilor Raegan LaRochelle said.

Just before vote, Councilor Kevin Judkins asked Morrill for a favor.

“When you get this thing moving forward, would you get out there with a weed whacker and take those 5-foot-tall weeds off the front of that thing on Western Avenue?” Judkins said.

Morrill said he “absolutely” will take care of the weeds once he gets final MaineHousing approval to move forward.