For the past several years, Hardypond has been working on a multi-phase housing project in downtown Saco. It began with the innovative conversion of the Notre Dame de Lourdes church into apartments that preserved the church’s historic design details and was honored by Maine Preservation. Later, Hardypond expanded the project to the adjacent lot with a four-story apartment building that utilized a cutting-edge insulated wall system. Hardypond has now continued the expansion with another multi-story apartment building on Cutts Avenue. It will be a near-mirror image of the other apartment building, providing nice symmetry on either side of the church apartments. Due to material prices and availability, small changes had to be made, but Hardypond collaborated with an architect to facilitate the design process, a partnership that worked well. Now, all three buildings look similar and complement each, and are a welcome addition to picturesque downtown Saco.
Hardypond began this new phase of the project in late Spring of 2022. Despite some delays, and a slower start, Hardypond was fortunate to find great partners to work with and formulate a dynamic plan to move forward. After excavating the site, the team went to work building the foundation and steel structure for the garage, which is on the ground level. Unfortunately, the concrete and steel work had to be done in December, but the Hardypond team is used to navigating construction during Maine winters. The stairwells went up next and provided a path for people and materials. The roof of the garage serves as the floor of the apartments, which begin on floor two and go up to a fifth floor.
A challenging aspect of the project was the site itself. It is beyond tight on three sides; there are abutters to the site with less than five feet of clearance. The constricted site meant the logistics for this project were complex, an aspect that is consistent with construction in bigger cities, but not something often seen in Maine. Always committed to finding creative solutions, Hardypond rose to the challenge and found ways to be efficient with its work flow in the narrow space. Since the crew had to utilize the empty lot across from the site for staff and large equipment parking as well as material storage, Cutts Avenue was also a travel path for all the workers on the site. This meant the Hardypond team had to cross a main road regularly throughout the day, which presented logistical and safety challenges. Partnering with the city of Saco to facilitate a smooth and safe traffic flow on Cutts Avenue, Hardydpond was able to close part of the street for the duration of the project. Once the garage space was finished, the crew was able to use that space for storage, which helped create efficiencies in the worksite.
Despite the early delays and some unexpected setbacks in winter due to the weather, the Hardypond crew got the project back on track and worked on interior finishes through the summer. A lot of time was spent on the building’s HVAC, electrical and sprinkler systems. Skilled at Project Management and the complex choreography of construction, Hardypond was able to sequence the installation of the extra large showers before the doors and walls went up, a detail that was important for the bathroom design. To help keep the project on its timeline, Harydypond also found additional ways to be efficient, such as only installing drywall on one side so the city inspection of utilities could be done while the team was concurrently doing other work.
Hardypond is always looking to incorporate sustainable building materials and the latest building technologies in our projects and the team was excited to be able to again use Wally Walls, an insulated metal wall system, in the construction of this building. According to Wadsworth, it had been a learning experience to use the eco-friendly product in the previous Cutts Avenue apartments. “We spent so many hours going back and cutting out insulation for electrical, that this time we built the walls between units and went back and insulated afterwards. We learned and adjusted our approach, which really helped our process.”
All summer the Hardypond team has been charging ahead and finishing all the final details floor by floor. The building is slated to be ready for occupancy in November, providing 33 apartments for adults in the 55+ community. With views of the entire city of Saco from the top floors, the new apartments will provide chic, urban living and a walkable lifestyle for people to enjoy the vibrant downtown area of Saco.