Developer plans apartment complex in Bates Mill

LEWISTON — A developer has plans to turn part of Bates Mill No. 2 into a apartment complex complete with 52 units, Wi-Fi, a fitness room, a media room, heated storage and a common area with computers.

Artist rendering of Bates Mill No. 2 provided by Maine Workforce Housing.

Artist rendering of Bates Mill No. 2 provided by Maine Workforce Housing.

Eighteen of the apartments will be one-bedroom units rented at market rate, or about $640 a month including heat, hot water and a parking spot. The remaining 34 apartments will be one-, two- and three-bedroom units reserved for low-income renters.

The developer, Portland-based Maine Workforce Housing, is working to secure financing. It hopes to start construction next summer and open in early 2012. It is calling the project The Lofts at Bates Mill.  

This will be the first residential project for any mill in Lewiston.

"I think it has the potential to really have a strong positive impact on the downtown, to bring more people downtown," said housing developer Nathan Szanton. "Living close to the shops and restaurants and public amenities, banks and the post office and library, all the things that the downtown has to offer, will help drive the redevelopment and spur the continued redevelopment of the Bates Mill complex. And, hopefully, other mills in Lewiston as well. We hope this could be a model that others could follow to bring housing to the mills." 

Bates Mill No. 2  is between the buildings that house TD Bank and DaVinci's Eatery.  Maine Workforce Housing said it plans to buy 40 percent of Bates Mill No. 2 from Tom Platz and his Bates Mill LLC. The apartment complex will occupy the back half of the building, with apartments overlooking the courtyard fountain. The apartments will also feature 12-and-a-half foot ceilings, exposed timber framing and large windows.

"The units are going to be fabulous. I'm really excited about the units," Szanton said. "They are going to have a lot of character."

The complex will offer various amenities, including wireless Internet access, a media screening room free for tenants' use, a laundry room, a fitness area, heated self-storage and a community room with computers. Parking will be offered at a nearby parking garage as part of the rent.

Maine Workforce Housing is working on a similar project in Biddeford, where it's converting a 165-year-old mill building into The Mill at Saco Falls, a 66-unit apartment complex with a solar-powered hot water system,  indoor bike storage, outdoor kayak storage and a playground.

"We wanted to find another mill building we could do the same thing to, to kind of breathe new life into a building that had been underutilized and sitting empty," Szanton said. "It's really fun to kind of give a new breath of life and vitality to an old building that has a lot of potential but is just waiting for someone to come along and kind of help it realize that potential. That's what we love to do."

Lincoln Jeffers, who heads economic development for the city, said he was delighted that Szanton wanted to do a project in Lewiston. He believes it will help the area's revitalization efforts.

"The one piece of the puzzle that's been missing is having more folks living downtown," Jeffers said. "Nationally, Bates Mill is pretty unique without the housing. Most mill redevelopment projects throughout New England and in the South generally do have a housing component. So this is sort of coming back to that model."

Another group has proposed putting a casino in nearby Bates Mill No. 5.  Szanton said  he hasn't thought a lot about that proposal and any impact a casino that might have on The Lofts at Bates Mill.

Szanton plans to send out invitations next week inviting neighbors to meet with Maine Workforce Housing to discuss his project. That meeting has been scheduled for 5:15 p.m. on June 16 at DaVinci's.  

Maine Workforce Housing also will meet with Lewiston's Historic Preservation Review Board and the Planning Board this summer. Jeffers plans to present the project to the City Council and discuss any assistance the city may want to provide to the developer.  

In order to qualify for the 34 apartments reserved for low-income families, renters must earn 50 percent or less than the median income for the area. For one person, that currently means an annual income of $19,500 or less. Those apartments will rent for about $483 a month for a one-bedroom, $577 a month for a two-bedroom and $665 a month for a three-bedroom, all including heat, hot water and a parking space. The developer is working to get Section 8 vouchers for 13 of those units.

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Michael Hobbs's picture

While I like the idea of

While I like the idea of making part of the mill into apartments I do not agree with low-income apartments. Lewiston is a haven for those low-income renters which isn't exactly a bad thing, but it isn't exactly a good thing either. A lot of up scales businesses will not do business in Lewiston because the fact that a large majority of the people are low-income and can't afford time to leisure or don't have money to spend to buy high quality items. I am not bashing on those with low-income because some of my family members are these exact people and I see how it is. If anything they should have though about turning into condo type apartments. Lastly the city, Platz and the investor should have asked the other members of the Bates Mill community on their outlook of this idea. Also section 8 or those on welfare shouldn't be allowed to live there, a "community" room, free internet, etc... that would really make me want to get off welfare.

Dan Moody's picture


Here Lewiston is so POOR ........ To ask for more . NUT 'S

 's picture

Oh I understand completely, you are like

alot of folks around here, totally elitist with misconceptions about people. Apparently you believe these landlord will allow anyone into those apartments without doing due diligence first.

 's picture

It would appear that that is

It would appear that that is what happened with you tron when you moved into the Roak Block.

 's picture

I am not now, nor have ever been

in the Roak Block. Guess booby gave you the wrong information. Are you one of his "special" scouts?

 's picture

There is nothing to prevent anyone from

renting the other apartments for market rent if they want to. The subsidies will only kick in if a person is not capable of affording the rent. But they way things work, if people want to pay the total price, they're allowed to.

Libby St Pierre's picture

right on

again, i agree

Melissa  Dunn's picture

i despise the fact that some

i despise the fact that some talk about ALL low-income families/people as a league of their own and fully capable to work. there are many elderly, handicapped, or people with mental-health issues and they are entitled to nice homes too. there are people that work paycheck to paycheck with minimum wage. also the economy... no one takes that into consideration and they make it sound like they have 100k or more in the bank. come on. i don't know why so many people lack compassion for others.

i think more of the problem stems down to lewiston and landlords... if they are taking care of their buildings/property people are more apt to take care of their property/home/where they live... this goes for low-income-everyone. it also takes a community effort to make the streets look clean-but most people will sit back waiting for the next person to do it... essentially it will not getting it done... if the apt buildings/property are being cared for, people are more apt to take care of it-its a known fact.

my biggest concern is the asbestos... the mill is one huge, massive building. if they're taking a section for apts-yes that may be cleared of asbestos... but what about the rest of the building?

Melissa  Dunn's picture

ahh-it is a very great idea

ahh-it is a very great idea and i've been putting some thought into it for quite a while now. i've already figured a way how to do it, where to start, etc. the issues that i am dealing with and facing at this moment is getting to lewiston, because i live quite far away. other than that i am hopeful to make a change-a difference-hopefully very, very soon. its just unfortunate to think that another day has to go by... without anyone doing it... or without me being able to make it to lewiston.

Libby St Pierre's picture



Libby St Pierre's picture

Great- another area over run

Ok, I think this is great for the area, a nice looking apartment complex, until I read -and the rest for low income housing". What????? I thought the artist's conception looked really nice and classy and I would love to live in a place like that, till they mentioned low income, which means section 8, which means more of "the other clan" taking over like the rest of Lisbon st. I for once would like to live in a nice looking building. I pay more than over the top for my rent now, but if you have section 8, its easier to get the good places because the owners can jack up the price and charge almost what ever they want. I don't qualify for anything. I'm one of those who makes to much but not enough. I presently live in a very nice 3 bedroom that is more than I can afford but I do it to keep my family in a decent place. Wi-fi, gym? bring it on. But I guess I can't live there cuz I need 3 bedrooms and I dont qualify for sections 8. Thumbs down for me.

Douglas Mac antSaior's picture

Tell me who would rent at or

Tell me who would rent at or above market rate in the same building as 34 low income apartments?!

Libby St Pierre's picture



Libby St Pierre's picture




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