Lisbon Street business center gets under way

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LEWISTON – The Southern Gateway’s latest redevelopment project will bring 20,000 square feet of business office space to Lisbon Street this fall.

A small group of city officials and local development dignitaries were on hand at 415 Lisbon St. Tuesday afternoon to kick off work on the Pontiac Building, now redubbed the Business Service Center at KeyBank Plaza.

When it’s finished, the building will provide offices for seven development agencies: the Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce, the Maine International Trade Center, Coastal Enterprises Inc., Lewiston Auburn Railroad and the Lewiston Auburn Economic Growth Council and its associated business boosters, the Auburn Businesses Development Corporation and the Lewiston Development Corporation.

“What better way is there to show what this business community is all about than to provide a place for dynamic business service providers under one roof?” said Kathie Leonard, chair of the growth council’s board of directors.

The Chamber will take up space on the first floor. The growth council and other development groups will move to the fourth floor. The second and third floors, managed by the Lewiston Development Corporation, will be leased to private businesses.

“We’ve had calls about that space already,” said Paul Badeau, growth council marketing director. “We have people waiting in the wings for this to be finished.”

Badeau declined to say who might move in, however.

The project is part of the city’s effort to clean up the city’s southern gateway – the portion of Lisbon Street north of Maple Street. City and business leaders unveiled the plan in May 2003. Projects have included Northeast Bank and Oxford Networks office buildings, Andover College, renovations to the Public Theater and a new parking garage.

Developer Stephen Myers of designers Platz Associates, said crews are paying special attention to preserving the historic character of the building. They had to obtain special permission from the National Park Service and Maine Historic Preservation Commission to move forward.

Built in 1911, the building was first home to a farm tool retail and repair operation and later a car dealership. It also was used by LA United Grocers, but has been mostly vacant for the past 20 years.

“It’s a solid building, but there is a lot of structural work we need to do,” Myers said. Plans call for putting in a new stairwell and elevator on the Lisbon Street side and second stairwell at the southwest corner.

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