AUBURN — Bouffard & McFarland Builders already have approval for five lots in a new, high-end subdivision with easy access to the interstate and views of the White Mountains’ Presidential Range. 

It is about to approach the Planning Board to greenlight five more.

Then, 10 more after that.

“There’s more people interested in anything and everything we’re doing in new housing than I’ve ever seen in my life,” Gary McFarland said Tuesday.

It’s part of a local boom: This week, the city forecast that it expects to close the fiscal year in June with $34.6 million in new construction, significantly better than it’s done any year since the start of the Great Recession.

Last year closed with $19 million in new development, and $26.5 million the year before that.

“People are always putting in decks and fixing up things, but these major projects that really help our tax base, they do seem to be coming in a little more forcefully now,” City Planner Doug Greene said. “We’re just seeing more of that coming to our doorstep.”

Growth has come in a mix of residential, retail and higher education expansion. Among the larger projects: a $5 million trucking terminal for Hartt Transportation by the airport; a $6.5 million science building at Central Maine Community College; and an $870,000, 8,688-square-foot home permitted in December for Perkins Ridge Road.

The Planning Board also recently approved a building permit for a new Autozone at 192 Center St., in a vacant lot near Republic Jewelry, a $900,000 project.

Development in the fiscal year to date has totaled $26 million. The city has issued 641 building, electrical, plumbing and sign permits so far, from July to date, an average of 77 a month.

Greene is aware of several projects in the works for the coming months that he can’t talk about yet.

“It bodes well for where we think we might be by the end of June,” he said. “It’s looking better and better all the time.”

Most of the projects add to the city’s tax base, helping taxpayers’ bottom lines. Greene said there’s been a lot of effort put into spreading the word about Auburn as a place to live, work or grow a company. He hopes that is paying off.

McFarland, behind the new 56-acre Woodbury Heights development off Danville Corner Road, said he believes the uptick has to do with low interest rates, low gas prices, the economy turning around and building a solid reputation. He’s sold one of the $300,000-plus custom homes already. 

“Part of the reasoning is, too, during that whole big recession period people didn’t present new plans for new subdivisions hardly anywhere,” McFarland said. “Auburn is just about running out of places to build.”

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LEWISTON — When the city issues a pair of building permits for two $15 million dorm projects to Bates College this week, it will pass $47 million in new development so far this fiscal year, according to Gil Arsenault, director of planning and code enforcement.

Last fiscal year saw $30.2 million.

“Projects like the Maine Reliability Project, Bates College dorms, you can have a couple big projects that can” really influence that bottom line, he said.

Lewiston hasn’t seen particular growth in retail or had many new home starts this year, Arsenault said. Outside of the Bates’ buildings, other large projects have included nearly $1 million in renovations at New Beginnings on College Street and a $4.5 million, 64-bed Alzheimer’s residential care facility on Mollison Way.

From July 2014 through February 2015, Lewiston issued 705 building, plumbing and electrical permits, according to city records.


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