Bates Mill housing project gets financing


LEWISTON — The developer behind an ambitious plan to convert Bates Mill No. 2 into 48 mixed-income apartments said the proposal moved from hope to reality Wednesday.

With word that MaineHousing had awarded The Lofts at Bates Mill $5.2 million in low-income housing tax credits, “the project is definitely a go,” said Nathan Szanton, president of the Szanton Company. “It’s the single biggest piece in the financing puzzle.”

MaineHousing spokesman Dan Simpson said the project was up against 12 others. Six were awarded credits totaling almost $30 million.

“The competition for affordable-housing tax credits in Maine is intense,” Szanton said. “It shows MaineHousing really cares about doing everything it can to help revitalize older downtowns.”

The $9.2 million project calls for 48 new units, 33 with subsidized rent, 15 charging the going market rate (in the $600s for a one-bedroom, $700s for a two-bedroom). The subsidized units each will rent for about $200 less than the market rate, Szanton said.

Rents will include heat, hot water, Wi-Fi, off-street parking and access to a fitness center, computer room and home theater room.

Construction plans will be worked out over the next three months, Szanton said. It will go out to bid in April. Szanton hopes to close on financing and start construction in late May or June. With a nine-month build, the housing ideally will open in March 2012, he said.

Meeting with future potential residents should start well before that.

Szanton said model units would be finished in the first three months so people would have something to tour. Potential tenants have to agree to criminal and credit background checks, come with several references and abide by house rules such as no smoking.

Szanton said he planned a kickoff meeting with project architect Platz Associates on Friday. Platz Associates owns Bates Mill No. 2. Szanton intends to buy part of the mill.

The project had already been approved by the City Council for a tax-increment financing agreement, which would return some property taxes to the company.

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