After two-and-a-half years of careful planning and construction, a crowd including Maine state representatives, employees, future tenants and community leaders gathered on Thursday, August 25, 2022 for a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening of The Jackson Laboratory’s Hemlock Lane workforce housing complex in Bar Harbor, constructed to address the lack of accessible, year-round housing in the region.
“These beautiful apartments exemplify JAX’s commitment to our people and our local community,” said JAX President and Chief Executive Officer Lon Cardon, Ph.D., FMedSci. “Affordable, nearby housing is a top concern for JAX employees, and we are proud to be a member of the local non-profit sector that is taking the lead in proposing, funding, and completing crucial housing projects. It is making a real difference to our employees who are not only committed to JAX, but to their involvement in the local Mount Desert Island community.”
JAX Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer S. Catherine (Katy) Longley, J.D., reinforced the importance of the project: “Year-round, high-quality rentals like Hemlock Lane are a critical part of solving the local housing crisis.”
Affordable, year-round housing is not a new challenge to the island community. Longley reflected on a 1965 memo from former JAX Director, Earl Green, which recommended construction of 12-unit apartments for Laboratory employees. “It took 57 years from Dr. Green’s recommendations, and I’m proud to see this across the finish line,” said Longley.
The Hemlock Lane complex, located in walking distance from JAX’s Bar Harbor campus which employs approximately 1500 people, was constructed with sustainable design principles and includes two stand-alone buildings with twelve one-, two-, and three-bedroom units each (24 units in all), an open outdoor community space, a shared storage building, and tenant parking. Apartments are offered at competitive market rates and the complex will house over 40 people.
Employees interested in the complex submitted a short application and were entered into a lottery conducted by The Bar Harbor Housing Authority, which is managing the complex.
The completion of the Hemlock Lane apartments marks a major step in JAX’s mission to address employee needs, including housing, childcare and other issues. “In my position at JAX, I see firsthand how housing is one of the major determining factors on whether or not candidates can take a position here,” said Ezra Hallett, a talent acquisition partner at JAX and a tenant in the new complex. “This project is a great step in making sure folks at JAX can secure housing in this wonderful community and continue (or start) their careers with the Lab. I look forward to sharing this opportunity with all of the other residents who will call Hemlock Lane home.”
JAX will continue to assess how to best meet employee needs in the months and years ahead, said Longley.
“Housing, childcare, transportation – all of these are essential to our employees and to our mission,” she stated. “We are considering how to best invest in housing in the coming years. We hope our state and community leaders will join us and other employers in partnerships to increase employee housing in the region.”