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August 12, 2020

Biddeford breaks ground on $22M downtown parking garage

rendering of four-story parking garage on a city street Courtesy / City of Biddeford Construction of a long-anticipated, 640-space parking structure, shown here in a recent rendering, began Tuesday in downtown Biddeford.

After years of discussion, planning and pent-up demand, the city of Biddeford on Tuesday broke ground on a 640-space municipal parking garage designed to help reinvigorate its downtown Mill District.

The five-story Lincoln Garage will go up on a city-owned lot at 3 Lincoln St., formerly the site of the Maine Energy Recovery Corp. waste-to-energy plant. Construction is expected to be complete by July 2021 and to cost $22.3 million.

Partnering with the city on the project is Treadwell Franklin Infrastructure Capital, based in Yarmouth; consulting firm James W. Sewall Co., of Old Town; Amber Infrastructure Group, an international firm providing equity financing; and Portland-based PC Construction Co.

The project includes all aspects of the garage’s development and operation, from construction and financing to ongoing maintenance. Biddeford contracted with Treadwell Franklin and Sewall to develop and manage the parking facility, as well as nearby surface lots. Amber will hold a 26-year lease on the facility. Premium Parking will operate the parking services.

In addition to the garage, the project also includes further development of Biddeford’s RiverWalk and other pedestrian paths, connecting the garage to Mechanics Park.

Construction costs will be paid for by the city’s tax increment financing revenues and income from parking fees. No property tax dollars will be used for the project, and the tax rate will not increase because of it, the city has said.

It’s estimated the garage will provide $16.4 million in property tax revenue for Biddeford in the first 10 years of operation and a benefit of $39.8 million over 25 years.

Biddeford has been exploring the creation of a parking structure for the past several years, as new commercial and residential development has brought more people downtown and strained the capacity of city streets and lots.

After approval by the City Council, Biddeford put the project out to bid in 2018 and signed a contract with the developers last September.

“This parking garage is a critical piece in the redevelopment and reemergence of Biddeford as a desirable community,” Mayor Alan Casavant said during Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony. “It shatters the old stereotype of the city being nothing more than a dying mill town, it provides the needed parking spaces to be a catalyst for future development within the district, and it is a symbol of pride in who we are as a people.”

Stephen Jones, president and CEO of Treadwell Franklin, said in a news release, “TFIC is grateful to its partner, Amber, and likewise to Mayor Casavant, Biddeford’s city council and staff, for their foresight and dedication to these projects, especially in challenging times and economic uncertainties. We are proud to become a part of the Biddeford community and look forward to participating in reinvigorating the local economy.”

Tom O’Shaughnessy, head of Amber Infrastructure US, said, “Amber and [parent company] Hunt are delighted to have been able to accelerate the delivery of the city of Biddeford’s critical infrastructure plans. We are pleased to be working with the city of Biddeford and helping to deliver key components of the city’s plan for the redevelopment of the downtown Mill District.”

Courtesy / The Knight Canney Group
Tom O’Shaughnessy, of Amber Infrastructure, speaks at Tuesday's groundbreaking ceremony for the new Lincoln Garage in downtown Biddeford.

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