LEWISTON — Downtown's newest hotel has been a long time coming, according to principal developer Chris Thompson.
"We have been working to make this day happen for, it feels like, most of my adult life," said Thompson, of Lincoln Street Hoteliers. "It's been a long process, but a very good one."
A crowd of Twin Cities municipal and business officials crowded the dirt lot at 15 Lincoln St. on Friday to welcome construction of the newest downtown hotel, Hampton Inn Lewiston-Auburn.
Work on the $12 million, 93-room hotel is scheduled to wrap up in September 2014. It's being built in the heart of Lewiston's Riverfront Island, on Lincoln Street near Main Street — the former location of the R.I. Mitchell building and the Vincent Fruits building.
The four-story hotel will be built right up to Lincoln Street, with parking and support between the street and the river. The bulk of the rooms will face north, looking toward the Great Falls.
It's a great development that will fit right in, Mayor Robert Macdonald said.
"When people stay at this Hampton, they will eat in our local restaurants — right behind us — attend performances at venues such as the Franco Center, Public Theatre, Guthries and the nearby Community Little Theatre," Macdonald said. "It's one more indicator of our growth and development as an inviting place to visit, raise a family, play and do business."
The property is owned by Lincoln Street Hoteliers and will be operated by Lodgesys, the company that operates the Sheraton Harborside in Portsmouth, N.H. Portland-based Wright Ryan Construction and Archetype Architects are doing the construction.
The project is being financed by Machias Savings Bank and a U.S. Department of Agriculture loan guarantee. Developers paid the city $500,000 to purchase the lots, just south of Yvon's Supersonic Car Wash.
Councilors approved the development plan and a 10-year tax-increment finance district for the project in December 2011. The tax-incentive plan returns $1 million in property taxes to developers over 10 years.