Portland Planning Board to discuss housing proposed for former high school

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The Portland Planning Board will hold a workshop Tuesday, Aug. 10, on a proposal to create 140 units of new housing at the former Catherine McAuley High School on Stevens Avenue.

The project is a long-planned transformation of the former school into senior housing proposed by Developers Collaborative. The workshop will discuss Phase 2 of what is called Stevens Square; it would add four multistory buildings on the property, for a total of nearly 202,000 square feet of floor area.

The former Catherine McAuley High School on Stevens Avenue in Portland. (Portland Phoenix/Colin Ellis)

The new buildings will be market-rate condominiums.

The project has appeared before the Planning Board several times for various purposes dating back to 2016, when the board approved a master development plan for future buildout.

The property is adjacent to the former St. Joseph’s Convent, which was also turned into housing as 88 apartments for residents 55 and older, which is now known as the Motherhouse on Stevens Square.

The Planning Board will eventually be asked to amend the master development plan to reflect new common open space between the four new buildings and extend the term of the plan approvals for an additional two years. It would also have to approve a major site plan for the new buildings and approve a subdivision for the parcel.

The former high school, which was renamed the Maine Girls Academy after it ended its religious affiliation with the Sisters of Mercy, closed in 2018 due to low enrollment. The Sisters of Mercy, which vacated the buildings in 2005, sold the buildings to Sea Coast at Baxter Woods Associates, to create the senior housing community with the Motherhouse as the centerpiece.

The Planning Board on Tuesday will also hold a public hearing on a potential change of use for 300 Fore St. in the Old Port as the temporary home of the University of Maine School of Law.

The space in the Fore Street building, at the intersection with Custom House Street, is owned by the Council on International Educational Exchange. It will temporarily house both the law school and other graduate-level programs until a new graduate center is constructed on the University of Southern Maine campus.