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Developers, climate leaders hope new Portland complex can be model for the future

Solaris: Eco-Lux Condos had its official grand opening ceremony Wednesday. Before residents even move in, it's expected to shape future development.

PORTLAND, Maine — As Maine continues to combat the housing crisis around the state, a new condo project in Portland is helping fill available units and provide a model for the future.

'Solaris: Eco-Lux Condos' held its grand opening ceremony on Wednesday. The seven-unit building began construction on Morning Street in Portland's East End in November 2021. 

Developer Tom Landry, the owner of Benchmark Real Estate, said the project focused on sustainability and using environmentally safe materials and appliances.

"We have to think about building differently. So the idea is, 'This is the property of the future, being built right today, and we’re pretty excited about it,'" Landry said.

A highlight of the building is a 70-pannel solar farm on the roof. The developers expect the panels will offset 50% of the entire building's electric use. Landry added the solar farm is owned by the residents and not his company. 

Credit: Solaris

According to the Solaris website, residents will split a one-time $22,000 state and federal tax credit based on a percentage of ownership basis. 

Landry knows these units are not affordable for most Mainers but said this project can be a model of eco-friendly development.

"We’re trying to perfect the process here, and then take this to a different price point to provide even affordable housing that meets these standards," he said.

Dozens of city and climate leaders were also on hand during Wednesday's ceremony. Jeff Marks, the Executive Director of ClimateWork Maine, said, “This is exactly the type of innovative building needed when we think about new construction in Maine.” 

Marks noted that transportation contributes "the most to climate pollution" in Maine. This building will have an Electric Vehicle charger for residents and is close to downtown Portland to accommodate walking or biking commutes.

“This is something that can be replicated in other parts of the state and is being done throughout the country in other types of climates," he added.

The idea of being environmentally friendly began when the foundation was laid and the construction began. Jon Smith and his team at Great Falls Construction worked on the project from day one.

"Our team focuses extremely hard on being respectful to the environment, respectful to the city, to the neighborhood," Smith added.

Smite said he also hopes similar eco-friendly developments pop up over the city and the greater Portland area.

The six 'large' unit condos have been sold, and residents are expected to move in soon. There is one workforce unit that is still on the market, according to the Solaris website.

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