New plan would raze vacant Auburn Lanes

AUBURN — The vacant Auburn Lanes building at Academy and Main streets will come down to make room for townhouses, according to a revamped development plan.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Coastal Enterprises plans to raze the former Auburn Lanes at Academy and Main streets and replace it with five townhouses. The proposal will go before the Planning Board on Tuesday.

Coastal Enterprises Inc. had planned to renovate the former bowling alley at 261 Main St., using the current structure as a parking area and adding a second floor to it.

"But once the structural engineers and the architects got in and finished their investigation, they realized the structure would not allow going up for a second floor," said Grace Cleaves, director of marketing for Coastal Enterprises. "We could not have done it without significant structural work that would have driven the cost way up."

Plans call for razing the structure and subdividing the half-acre parcel into seven lots. Individual townhouses would be built on five lots, all facing Academy Street. A common area, with parking and a carport, would be built on the sixth lot behind the houses.

The seventh lot, which would face Main Street, would be reserved for future development: more residential development or retail.

"The result is that this will be new construction now," Cleaves said. "It will be even more marketable."

The Planning Board is scheduled to review Coastal Enterprise's development plan Tuesday night.

The project is estimated to cost $1.25 million.

Original plans called for renovating the abandoned bowling alley and adding a top floor with five individually owned, two-bedroom units. Each unit would have had a covered parking area and storage on the ground floor.

"That was not an exhaustive design process, just a concept of what we were thinking at that point," said Tom Donahue, construction analyst for Coastal Enterprises. "When you go in the building as it is now, you see an impressive steel skeleton that looks extremely sturdy. But on further review, the amount of reinforcements needed would have driven the cost up, well beyond the reach of the people we are trying to serve."

Cleaves said federal funding set aside to help pay for the project will not change.

Coastal Enterprises would use an $850,000 federal Neighborhood Stabilization Grant, given to the city and the corporation last year, to pay for part of the work.

Units would be sold to medium-income residents, according to plans. That means residents making about 120 percent of the median income for Central Maine, which is about $68,000 for a family of four.

261 Main Site Plan

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Mike Lachance's picture

$68k a year for a family of

$68k a year for a family of four is wealthy?


At $1,250,000.00 for 5 units,

At $1,250,000.00 for 5 units, the price per unit is $250,000.00. Will anyone making $68,000.00/year be willing or able to pay such a price? And don't forget that this is the cost of building the units with no profit in it for developer. One can buy a very nice private home in the twin cities for much less than this.

This is another boon doggle that will only fly because of the government grant to the developer and most probably a subsidized loan to the buyer which means that taxpayers are again forced to pay for others to make a profit and get cheap housing. At some point the taxpayers of this country will have to tell politicians we have had enough of this foolishness. If developers cannot come up with viable plans to make an honest profit, we must tell them to stop raiding taxpayer monies.

Mike Lachance's picture

I agree... but remember,

I agree... but remember, the grant saves the developer alot of that $$. I make no claim that this is ANYTHING but low-income housing. I feel it is just that, and I agree, the only reason the developer would even consider building this is because of the "free money" the Feds are dangling.

In Lewiston at least, Mayor Macdonald "gets it" that these projects do nothing to bring economic vitality to a struggling city.

As for Labonte? Does anyone really know what he thinks? Very very much a SOP Maine Politician. We'll have to build it and wait until it fails or succeeds before we know if he is fort or against it.

GARY SAVARD's picture

The article says $68,000 is

The article says $68,000 is medium income, Dan. Regardless, this is indeed another example of a connected development agency making money on a project with taxpayer dollars, because the project is not viable otherwise. And this goes on all over the country. No wonder we have a huge deficit in our federal budget.

 's picture

um, no thank you

Holy crap! If I made 68k a year, the last place I would want to live is on the corner of main and academy street! Just tear that eyesore down and make a nice park so it doesn't look so crappy when ppl come in to that part of town. At least there would be more benches to sit and drink after you used your debit card at florians.

 's picture

*EBT card

*EBT card

Mike Lachance's picture

LOL. exactly Libby! and I do

LOL. exactly Libby! and I do agree with you, this is such an off-the wall use of THAT corner. How about a coffee shop of another breakfast joint... would be much more useful and add to the economic vitality of that stretch of main st.


To Mr. Breton, the definition

To Mr. Breton, the definition of $68,000 as low income is not my definition, but that of your elected officials in Washington.


Definitely the only reason

Definitely the only reason any developer does this type project is the taxpayer money that our politicians so easily give to their favored recipients. None of these projects are economically feasible on their own.

The big problem with these projects in the twin cities is that their exists a glut of rental housing and a very high vacancy rate. These projects increase the vacancy rate and the owners of vacant apartments cannot afford to keep them up aggravating the problem of bad housing.

Another problem is that these new units in many instances do not rent to local tenants, but to people from far away; if we import additional low income people from away we aggravating the welfare situation in the area.

A better use of taxpayer money would be for the City to negotiate with the property owner(s) and either have them bring their properties to code or to sell them to the City at a fair price established by the City's assessed valuation of the property. The City feels property is worth what it assesses it at, and if owner thinks City is wrong they can ask for a re-evaluation and pay taxes at that rate and when process gets to this stage value has already been set. I would not think this property is assessed at the amount to bee given to the developer.


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