AUBURN — Plans for a major New Auburn facelift, including moving the Bernard Lown Peace Bridge down river were presented to the City Council Monday evening.

Last spring, New Auburn property and business owners began a series of meetings with a steering committee of city councilors to implement the city’s 2011 master plan of developing a downtown village.

Thomas Errico of T.Y. Lin International and Mitchell Rasor of MRLD Landscape Architecture led a presentation outlining the first draft of a four-phase process restructuring New Auburn to be more friendly for businesses, pedestrians and motor vehicle traffic.

Parts of the plan involve closing off South Main Street between Broad and Cook streets and streamlining the intersection of Mill Street and Riverside Drive to ease traffic flow.

The area surrounding Little Andy Park would become the “Riverway” — a pedestrian-friendly area combining a street with speed tables and a green space offering wide sidewalks and views of the river.

The Riverway area was billed as a “calm street,” with an esplanade redesigned above the floodplain unlike much of the area as it currently exists.

The redesigned area will feature two- to three-story buildings — close to the sidewalks, with businesses located on the first floors and residences above.

The new buildings, mirroring each other in appearance on either side of the street, will bring housing in the area from a suburban residential capacity to a more urban capacity.

The first phase of the project would be the Riverway with a cost of $2.7 million dollars. It would include the new esplanade and the restructuring of buildings and residences around the Little Andy Park area.

The other three phases of construction involve restructuring streets, buildings and the eventual relocation of the Bernard Lown Peace Bridge about 400 feet down river to the tune of just under $18 million dollars, not including the cost of relocating the bridge.

Mayor Jonathan LaBonte said rezoning New Auburn would be crucial to future planning. He said the area is currently zoned like the Auburn Mall area, making it possible for any large chain retailer to move in and destroy the aesthetic they are trying to achieve.

The project remains a work in progress with the next draft expected to be released August 15. The New Auburn Village study is available for download in PDF format at the City of Auburn’s website, www.auburnmaine.gov.

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