LEWISTON — A plan to redevelop Pierce Street properties burned in last May’s downtown fires is back, this time without the support of Volunteers of America.

Property owner Phyllis St. Laurent is bringing back a plan to build 29 housing units with subsidized rents on three properties she owns at 149 Bartlett St., and 110 and 114 Pierce St.

Economic Development Director Lincoln Jeffers briefed councilors on the proposed project during Tuesday’s workshop meeting.

“It’s a project with a longtime local landlord who lost these buildings and is looking to recreate them,” Jeffers said. “She’s been invested in this city since the early 1980s. She’s surrounded herself with a very good team and local players who could create good local housing.”

City Administrator Ed Barrett said the plan would be back before city councilors at their April 15 meeting.

Councilors approved a development plan there last summer.

According to that proposal, Volunteers of America Northern New England would have replaced buildings on lots burned in a downtown blaze May 3. The city would have taken over the properties and given them to Volunteers of America Northern New England at no cost, would have waived fees on the project and created a 15-year Tax Increment Financing District.

Local landlords objected, saying they preferred city support go to local developers and the project ultimately fell apart.

But Jeffers said MaineHousing has agreed to hold those tax credits for this development and for the city of Lewiston.

“Because of the tragedy in Lewiston last year, MaineHousing has agreed to do a set-aside, which they have never, never done,” Jeffers said.

But Jeffers said there is a deadline. The city must let MaineHousing know whether the project will move forward by May.

St. Laurent is working with the Developers Collaborative, a group that has built projects in Lewiston before. It would be a $5 million project with subsidized rents and federal Section 8 housing vouchers tied to the development. Jim Hatch of the Developers Collaborative said the project would be aimed at families making 60 percent of the median income, about $33,700 for a family of four.

Jeffers said this plan is different from the previous one, from the city’s perspective.

“Last year’s project required a (Tax Increment Financing District); this one does not require a TIF,” Jeffers said. “There is no new city money going into this project.”

Jeffers said councilors had decide whether they wanted to go forward with the development at that site or surrender the tax credits.

“I know we’d like to see market rate happen,” Jeffers said. “I’d like to see it happen in the downtown, but I don’t see it happening in this neighborhood until we do something to stabilize it.”

The discussion drew supporters and foes of the project. Members of the Visible Community and the Maine People’s Alliance urged councilors to approve the project.

“This is an easy one,” Jim Lysen said. “We are replacing things that burned. I think we are moving forward, investing in the downtown and getting taxes.”

Shanna Rogers agreed.

“I am seeing a returning sense of pride there, and the investment that this property would bring to what is now a sand lot in the center of the downtown is very important,” Rogers said.

The meeting also drew local landlords who said the project would hurt their ability to make their projects profitable.

“I am against this again, and I will be again next year,” said landlord Michael Reed of Webber Avenue. “There again, we have millions of federal dollars just going to hurt the local landlord.”

Reed said he couldn’t compete.

“The value of my property hasn’t gone up in years,” Reed said. “And with this thing, it’ll go down even more because I will lose paying customers.”

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