LEWISTON Citing Tuesday’s storm and some last-minute editing changes, city councilors Tuesday postponed a decision on the proposed Exit 80 development and property tax incentives until Wednesday.

“We want to be sure that everybody is on the same page and we are all 100 percent together,” City Administrator Ed Barrett said. “Secondly, given tonight’s weather, there was some concern that people that wanted to speak tonight couldn’t come. So, there was a feeling we should continue the public hearing until tomorrow to give people another opportunity to speak.”

A special meeting will be held Wednesday with a 6 p.m. City Council executive session to review the agreement followed by a 7 p.m. public hearing and vote.

Councilors are considering two main ideas for developing the land surrounding the turnpike.

First, they are considering an omnibus tax-increment finance district covering 425.81 acres of land surrounding Lewiston’s turnpike interchange. This would set aside up to 80 percent of new property tax revenues from the developments to pay for city utility work on the site and to repay developer Dave Gendron for site development costs.

Over 30 years, the various parcels at the interchange could fit:


*2.1 million square feet of commercial/warehouse space;

*540,000 square feet of retail space;

*231,000 square feet of office space;

*13,000 square feet of restaurant space;

*3,000 square feet in gas station space; and

*200 hotel rooms.


That would amount to $150 million in new investment, generating more than $4 million in annual property taxes at the 2015 tax rate.

But councilors are also considering a smaller, shorter-term deal with Gendron that clears the way for the first developments under the omnibus TIF a three-building development that would create roughly 168,600 square feet of new retail space on one of three retail lots. The main focus would be a 155,600-square-foot, big-box store at the center, an anchor retail development.

For comparison, Wal-Mart’s Auburn Supercenter is 220,000 square feet and Lewiston’s East Avenue Shaw’s Supermarket is 66,540 square feet.

That project, anchored by the unnamed big-box retailer, would add $12.8 million in property value to the area and $341,000 in new property taxes each year. Between $69,000 and $122,000 of the new taxes would go into the general fund. The rest would either be paid back to Gendron or pay the city’s utility improvement costs, according to the TIF agreement.

A few residents did speak Tuesday on the .

Land use planner Bob Faunce said he’s not involved with this project but said he’s been a part of previous efforts to bring real estate developments to the Exit 80 interchange. The combination of steep slopes on the land, granite ledge and watershed in the area make it a difficult area to develop.


The combination of city revenue, a big-anchor tenant and a private developer such as Gendron is the only way to kickstart development there, he said.

“This is what Lewiston really needs to get Exit 80 going,” he said. “And if you look up and down the turnpike, every urban exit in Maine has significant development around it. It starts out as retail, but it expands into other areas service and office uses.”

Mike Blais of 539 Webster St. begged councilors to approve the project.

“They are here to invest money in the city,” Blais said. “You open your arms and give them what they want — hands down and no questions asked. And the next person who comes up with $4 million to invest in the city, you say, ‘Thank you, here’s the open door.'”

Jared Lussier of 24 Wood St. said the developers and city staff had created a good project, but he said it’s not sustainable.

“I’m not here to ask you to invest in the downtown — but I am here to ask you to reconsider this,” Lussier said. “Invest in small business instead.”


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