AUBURN — The demolition of one of three Main Street tenements is on hold while the city investigates the building's history.
The building, at 337 Main St., is one of six the city plans to demolish this fall. A coordinator from the Maine State Historical Commission toured the property and determined that it could have historic significance.
"We have to hire a consultant to develop the history of the building and create a narrative and a site plan and sketch of each floor," said Reine Mynahan, Auburn's Community Development director.
"It's a concern because it is in such poor shape and it would take a huge influx of resources to fix it up and just make it livable," Mynahan said. "The back porches are ready to fall right into the Little Androscoggin and it hasn't even been lived in since 2003."
The city also plans to demolish two neighboring buildings, a four-story tenement at 369 Main St. and the two-story building across the street at 364 Main St. Buildings at 285 Court St., 192 Winter St. and 18 Western Promenade are also due for demolition.
St. Laurent and Son Demolition had the lowest bid on the projects, agreeing to demolish all six buildings for $284,937.
Crews are removing the roof at 285 Court St. and plan to begin knocking the rest of that building down later this month. The city also plans to demolish a vacant, single-family home at 18 Western Promenade and an old, five-bay garage at 192 Winter St.
The city purchased the Court Street building and 364 and 369 Main St. buildings using federal Neighborhood Stabilization grants. The city took over ownership of the Western Promenade and Winter Street properties when those owners failed to pay their property taxes.
Mynahan said the city bought the 337 Main St. property with Community Development Block Grants, fully intending to tear it down.
"But the funding requires us to do a complete environmental review and part of that is looking at the history," Mynahan said.
The city has to find out what the historic significance is and document it.
"I don't even know what it was that got them interested," Mynahan said. She thinks the building was housing for mill employees at one time.
"But more than that, I think they felt it had architectural significance, but I don't know exactly what it was," she said.
According to city assessing records, the 3½-story brick and clapboard building with a gable roof was constructed in 1904. It's listed as a four-family home, with four bathrooms and 13 bedrooms.
The city has tried to get the property redeveloped but hasn't found any interested developers.
"We've talked to all of the affordable housing agencies about redeveloping that property and they've all said no, partly because of the housing market," Mynahan said. "
View Auburn fall 2010 projects in a larger map