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  • Lincoln Street Center in Rockland, Maine asks city to house artists

    An art foundation is asking the Rockland City Council to amend the zoning of the Lincoln Street Center to allow artists to live there.

    The building was constructed in 1866, but had major additions and renovations in the early 1900s. The structure has 35,000 square feet of space and sits on 1.65 acres. It was formaly Rockland High School, then Rockland District Junior High School.

    Donna McNeil, executive director of the Ellis-Beauregard Foundation, told Rockland City councilors that the proposed zone change would allow combined living/work spaces related to educational and cultural purposes. Thereby benefiting artists who can't currently aford to live in Rockland.

    The goal is to renovate the section of the building that the Foundation rents from the Lincoln Street Center with a full kitchen and full bathroom. The Foundation is the largest tenant, paying $32,000 annually in rent.

    The Lincoln Street Center will also nvest in the building with its own in-kind renovations, according to McNeil. There are currently 22 studios and nearly all are rented. The zone change would allow for affordable housing for the artists.

    The Foundation provides grants to artists and is named after the late artists John David Ellis and Joan Marie Beauregard. The Council is scheduled to take a preliminary vote on the zone change at its Feb. 11, 2019 meeting. If approved, a formal public hearing and final vote could be held in March.

    The Lincoln Street Center is owned by Orchid LLC. Orchid bought the Lilncoln Street Center in 2012 for $125,000 after Camden National Bank took ownership of the property from the nonprofit organization Lincoln Street Center for Arts. The city had sold the property,  after the school district moved out in 1996 because of air quality concerns.

    Orchid LLC consists of Oded Ashe of Las Vegas; local resident Mario Abaldo; and Erez Ram of Agoura, Calif.