LEWISTON — Bidders seeking to put an end to the sawtooth-roofed Bates Mill No. 5 will get an extra week to work on their proposals and will no longer need to consider how to remove a hydroelectric facility.

Bidders said demolishing the mill building’s dam and turbine would have pushed costs much higher than the city expected, according to Purchasing Director Norm Beauparlant.

“This is a big project already, but that requirement would have made it almost unrealistic,” he said. “We’re talking about a complete dam with a hydro-plant within the building that they would have had to contend with.”

Councilors voted in April to begin taking proposals to demolish the massive building that looms over downtown. The city began hearing from demolition experts the very day after the vote — some from as far away as Minnesota, Ohio and Ontario.

But the demolition project has proved difficult to set up. The building is low to the ground, but covers a wide area. It has more than 350,000 square feet of usable space inside, although very little wood.

The city is giving bidders until Sept. 17 to put their proposals together. Bids were originally due on Sept. 10.

“That was an arbitrary date that we picked months ago,” Beauparlant said. “They needed more time to get the packages together, and that made sense.”

The building’s hydroelectric generating facility is owned by Florida Power and Light. It’s located in the center of the facility, meaning crews will have to demolish around it.

“For starters, the city doesn’t have control of the facility,” Beauparlant said. “It’s a complex structure, and there’s a decommissioning that has to take place first.”

The building was designed by industrial architect Albert Kahn and opened in 1914. The top floor, immediately under the distinctive saw-tooth roof, housed as many as 300 Jacquard looms during the Bates Co.’s heyday.

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