LIVERMORE FALLS — Town Manager Kristal Flagg told selectmen Monday that the town's Communities for Maine's Future grant application for $400,000 has been accepted and the money reserved to redevelop the Lamb Block on Depot Street.
The project proposes to put a health clinic on the third floor of the building. The Lamb Block was built in the 1880s and is the oldest building downtown.
“We were the highest overall scoring application in the state out of 32,” developer Kevin Bunker of Developers Collaborative of Portland said Tuesday. Bunker is working with Franklin Memorial Hospital and HealthReach on the project.
The town would act as fiscal agent for the project, as it is for Franklin Memorial Hospital's new medical arts center. The town received a $350,000 grant on behalf of FMH last year to offset construction costs for the project. The center is being built on Main Street, in back of the Lamb Block, which is owned by Kenny Jacques of Livermore Falls.
The Office of Community Development's approval of the CMF grant allows the project to move forward into the development stage, Bunker said.
Developers Collaborative and Franklin Memorial Hospital are currently working together on the construction of the medical arts center.
“The medical center is on schedule. Hebert Construction of Lewiston is doing a great job,” Bunker said. "They are looking to open by year's end.”
The hospital took an option on Jacques' building when it took an option on the vacant mall that was previously connected to the Chuck Wagon Restaurant. The mall was torn down to make way for the medical center.
The hospital decided it did not need the Lamb Block, Bunker said, but then the grant opportunity came up. In the end, he said, he would be the owner of the Lamb Block.
The next step is to work with HealthReach community health services, a nonprofit Maine organization, and architects to design a three-story addition to the Lamb Block where Group Adams Propane Services currently has office space. The addition would house an elevator and stairway.
“We've already begun conversations with HealthReach and architects,” Bunker said.
HealthReach currently has a health clinic that abuts FMH's Outpatient Services building at the Central Plaza in Livermore Falls. Once the new medical center is finished, FMH's services and its family practice in the town will move into the new medical center.
The plan is to move HealthReach into the third floor of the Lamb Block, Bunker said.
HealthReach uses the hospital's services by sending its patients next door to FMH Outpatient for blood work and X-rays, among other services, Bunker said previously.
Clinic space would potentially be rented out to HealthReach, he said.
The two lower floors in the building would be rental retail space.
The building would remain on the town's tax rolls, Bunker said previously.
The medical arts center and the Lamb Block would not be physically connected, he said.
Renovations would include new mechanical and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, a lot of exterior brickwork, bringing the building up to code, and adding a lot of structural steel. New windows would be installed that match the historical character of the building.
There probably would not be much renovation work done on the first two floors until a tenant is interested, Bunker said.
In the open space between the Chuck Wagon Restaurant building and the Jacques building, a small park would be created.
The hospital and developers are pursuing state and federal historical preservation tax credits, he said.
“If we preserve historical integrity of the building we will get tax credits to offset the cost,” Bunker said.
One condition of the grant is to not adversely affect the historic property.
The two projects will be a $6 million investment in the town and bring in jobs, he said.
When a survey was done previously on the downtown, there was 50 percent vacancy; with the projects, Bunker said, that number will decrease.