LEWISTON — A well-attended urban planning conference will return to the Bates Mill — this time, in May.

Vanessa Farr, co-founder of the first BuildMaine Conference, said she heard from many attendees who were eager to try some of what they had learned last fall.

“They were excited to get out and try these things and test these ideas and do tactical urbanism, but the snow was about to fly,” Farr said. “They all had to put away their paint-spraying gear and get out the snow equipment.”

About 250 planning professionals, developers and urban architects attended the first conference in Lewiston’s Bates Mill No. 1 in November.

“So we decided it makes a whole lot of sense to move it to spring, right as people are starting to think about infrastructure and the construction season,” she said. “People are out biking and walking, and they can take these ideas and run with them immediately.”

Congress for the New Urbanism New England’s Maine chapter is hosting the second BuildMaine conference May 20 and 21 at Bates Mill Building No. 1 in conjunction with the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine Real Estate and Development Association and GrowSmart Maine.


The conference brings different types of urban planning professionals together to discuss new ideas about improving Maine’s economy.

It begins Wednesday night, May 20, with a beer garden and PechaKucha presentation in the courtyard behind Baxter Brewing Co.

Topics on Thursday include different perspectives on Maine’s current condition and a walking tour of downtown Auburn, Baxter Brewing Co. and Bates Mill Building No. 5.

The group is still working to settle the keynote speaker and other presenters.

Farr said the group has a good working relationship with local sponsors, including Current Media, Baxter Brewing Co. and Platz Associates.

However, that does not mean the event will always be focused on Lewiston and Auburn.

“Other towns are interested in hosting the event,” she said. “We wanted to stay in Lewiston. We really feel like Lewiston-Auburn deserves the additional attention that BuildMaine brings. It deserves to be showcased and there is a lot of potential in these Twin Cities.”


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