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September 26, 2019

Downtown deals advance Lewiston’s plans for redeveloped neighborhoods

Courtesy / The Boulos Co. Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing Inc.’s purchase of three Pine Street properties, outlined in this photograph, in downtown Lewiston is aimed at advancing plans to improve the city’s affordable and market-rate housing stock and general neighborhood revitalization.

The purchase of three neighboring properties on Pine Street, in downtown Lewiston, is aimed at advancing plans to improve the city’s affordable and market-rate housing stock and general neighborhood revitalization.

Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing Inc. bought 40 Pine St. from the estate of James R. Costello Sr. for $377,000.  The organization acquired 54 Pine St. and 60 Pine St. from C’s Inc. for $203,000. 

Chris Paszyc of The Boulos Co. brokered both deals, which closed July 12.

Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing Inc. is a subsidiary of the Lewiston-based nonprofit Community Concepts.

40 Pine St., formerly owned by the Lewiston Sun Journal, has a 13,838-square-foot two-story office building and 27 parking spaces on a two-third-acre lot.

54 Pine St. is about two-tenths of an acre and has 21 parking spaces.

60 Pine St. has a 5,500-square-foot one-story office building and 19 parking spaces on a one-third-acre corner lot. 

Courtesy / The Boulos Co.
Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing Inc. bought 40 Pine St. as part of a plan to develop affordable and market-rate housing.

The properties are across the street from the northern edge of Kennedy Park.

Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing plans to redevelop the properties, with concept plans showing a mixed-use development comprising 66 housing units and ground-floor commercial space.

The redevelopment is a core part of a larger transformation plan for downtown Lewiston, envisioning revitalization through new and redeveloped housing and beautification projects. 

Transformational plan

Courtesy / The Boulos Co.
Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing Inc. bought 60 Pine St. for $203,000.

“It’s a fairly focused and large transformational plan,” said Community Concepts CEO Shawn Yardley. 

The overall redevelopment project is called “Growing Our Tree Streets: A Choice Neighborhood Transformation Plan for Lewiston’s Tree Streets.”

The Tree Streets neighborhood, which includes the Pine Street properties, is a 30-block residential area within downtown Lewiston that extends easterly from Lisbon Street and in part borders Kennedy Park. Much of the housing stock is substandard, according to city documents.

The neighborhood is home to residents from more than 30 nations around the world, many from eastern and central Africa. The growing population of African refugees and immigrants since 2001 has repopulated housing stock originally built in the mid-1800s; much of it has significantly deteriorated and is in need of repairs or replacement. In addition to substandard rental housing, over half of the neighborhood's households live in poverty. Residents struggle to meet basic needs for safe affordable housing, healthy, affordable food and access to jobs and quality services such as daycare.

The planning phase of the project was funded by a $1.3 million grant awarded in early 2018 by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Planning Grants Program.

The city of Lewiston was the lead applicant for the grant, and Community Concepts Inc. was co-applicant.

Lewiston is the first city in Maine to receive a grant through the program. The grants go toward supporting the development of comprehensive neighborhood revitalization plans that focus on directing resources to address three core area: housing, people and neighborhoods. 

The program requires communities to develop and implement a comprehensive neighborhood revitalization strategy, or “transformation plan,” which will guide revitalization of public and/or assisted housing units while also transforming the overall neighborhood and producing positive outcomes for residents.

Neighborhood approach

Courtesy / City of Lewiston
This image shows the Pine Street properties, which border the northern edge of Kennedy Park, as they are now.

The plan is grounded in community input as to what residents think would make for an  attractive neighborhood where people would want to live and raise their families, Yardley said.

“The goal is to replace some pretty unsafe, unhealthy housing with new affordable and market rate housing,” Yardley said.

It hasn’t been determined yet whether the Pine Street properties will be redeveloped or demolished for new construction, he added

Replace distressed housing

Courtesy / City of Lewiston
This rendering shows the Pine Street block’s proposed redevelopment with a 66-unit mixed-use mixed-income apartment building.

Lewiston/Auburn Community Housing previously acquired other rundown properties in the Tree Street Neighborhood, said Misty Parker, Lewiston’s economic development manager. The  majority of those parcels are bounded by Pierce, Pine, Bartlett and Walnut streets.

The redeveloped parcels will replace a distressed HUD-subsidized low-income housing development called Maple Knoll Apartments, not far from the Tree Streets Neighborhood, she said. 

Overall, the project focuses on developing different types of homes and neighborhood densities. That includes:

• Redevelop the Pine Street properties with a 66-unit mixed-use mixed-income apartment building;

• Extend market momentum up Pine Street into the heart of the Tree Streets with

a 64-unit mixed income family-oriented development;

• Adopt a relocation plan that eases the transition for Maple Knoll residents by

building first, then relocating;

• Redevelop the Maple Knoll site with at least 13 new single-family homes for sale or rent-to-own.

“We need to do final designs and cost estimates for the work,” Parker said. “Over the next year, we’ll be looking for a development partner. Next year, the city hopes to apply for a Choice Neighborhood implementation grant, which could be upward of $30 million.”

The majority of the funding will go toward redevelopment; 15% will go to critical neighborhood improvements and 15% toward “people” strategies such as helping folks who live at Maple Knoll relocate to the new housing sites. 

“This plan is about much more than just housing,” Parker explained. “Because it’s a HUD program, it’s anchored in housing. But it’s more of a comprehensive approach to redeveloping a distressed neighborhood.”

In addition to housing rehabilitation, the plan includes strategies to support education, health and workforce needs, and to improve safety.

The long-term project spans 25 years and depends on collaborative partnerships and multiple funding sources, according to city documents.

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