LEWISTON – Millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs, all aimed at lower Lisbon Street.

For City Administrator Jim Bennett, it’s the economic development package he’s dreamed of since he came to Lewiston a year ago.

“It has the ‘windshield wow’ factor we’ve been looking for at that Lisbon Street gateway,” Bennett said. “This is an amazing development, all aimed at one of the most stressed and blighted spaces in the state.”

Gov. John Baldacci will join Bennett and Lewiston city councilors at 9 a.m. Thursday to explain the plans. They include at least three companies and multiple-millions of dollars to create between 200 and 300 new professional jobs downtown.

Bennett declined to reveal Wednesday where the development was planned or which companies were involved.

The project will call for the redevelopment or construction of up to 100,000 square feet of space, Bennett said. All but 30,000 square feet was already spoken for, he said.

“And we don’t think we’re going to have much trouble finding a taker for that,” he said. “We expect a quick turnaround.”

Bennett and Development Director Greg Mitchell have been working on the details of the mystery project for several months, discussing matters with the City Council during executive sessions. Mayor Larry Raymond said he saw the final artist renderings of the project during an executive session Tuesday.

“It’s one of the most significant events of my time in office,” Raymond said Wednesday. “It looks marvelous and it really is going to create a new face for the city.”

Image issue

That’s the point, for Bennett. Lower Lisbon Street is the image many Mainers have of Lewiston.

“So if we are going to change people’s perceptions of Lewiston, we have to change their perceptions of this part of Lisbon Street,” Bennett said. “That’s what I’ve been working on since I came here. I think we’ll all be overwhelmed with the impact this will have for this community.”

Bennett said he would release most of the details of the project to the public Thursday. The city is still drafting the joint development agreement for the project, however. That is scheduled to be released to the public and city councilors Friday.

The agreement will detail what the city is doing to encourage the project. Most of that is site improvements, Bennett said. Those include road, sidewalk, water, sewer and electrical utility work.


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