LISBON – One of the town’s most historic commercial buildings may be purchased by the town and demolished as part of the Route 196 master plan, Town Manager Steve Eldridge said Monday.
A discussion will be held at the Town Council meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday on whether the town should float bonds to pay for the demolition of the Worumbo Mill building at the corner of Route 196 and Canal Street.
“It’s something the Town Council has been talking about behind closed doors for some time,” Eldridge said. “We decided to go public to find out how residents feel about it.”
During the recent Moxie Festival, Eldridge said the majority of residents who stopped by the town-sponsored booth said they thought the building should be kept and renovated. Built in 1920 as a fabric mill next to the Androscoggin River, the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
“The mill was a big part of the history of the town,” he said. The mill closed in 2006, and has been on the market for several years. It's owned by Miller Industries. The original asking price for the building was just under $1 million. The price has dropped several times since it went on the market in 2009.
Eldridge said Miller Industries owner Joe Miller, “a woman who has been very generous to the town of Lisbon” recently offered it to the town for $600,000. Don Spann of RE/MAX Riverside in Topsham is the listing broker.
Several years ago Miller Industries engaged the Lewiston architectural firm of Harriman Associates to study what the cost of restoring the “shell” of the building would be, Eldridge said. The $2 million price tag the firm came up with would cover replacing all the windows, putting on a new roof, installing a new electrical system and fixing the exterior walls.
The three-story building has about 25,000 square feet on each of three floors, not including the basement. It sits on about five acres of land and qualifies for tax increment financing, according to listing information on the RE/MAX Riverside website. It may also qualify for a Maine Historic Preservation Tax Credit, as well as a Military Redevelopment Zone.
“The council probably won’t talk about dollars and cents (Tuesday),” Eldridge said, referring to what the town might offer for the property if councilors decide to pursue a purchase. The town is currently getting estimates on costs to demolish the building, he said.
Whether the town decides to buy the building or not, leaving it in its present dilapidated state indefinitely isn’t something council members want to see, Eldridge said.
“The fate of this building is very important to our downtown revitalization,” he said.
The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Town Office. Councilor will arrive at 6:30 p.m. to take questions from the public.