LEWISTON — With two tenants all but guaranteed and others waiting in the wings, backers of a plan to redevelop the massive saw-tooth-roofed Bates Mill No. 5 told city councilors Tuesday that they need a little more time.

“We have met with seven financial institutions that are interested in being involved, in one way or another, but we don’t know which way we are going to go,” developer Tom Platz said. “The next phase of this requires setting up $70 million in financing, and we need to finish up writing leases and lease negotiations with the people involved.”

Representatives from Platz Associates presented an update to city councilors at a workshop Tuesday, asking them to extend a purchase option agreement for the facility.

City councilors are scheduled to vote on the new option extension at their Feb. 2 meeting.

“We have a lot to do,” Platz said. “We are very confident that this project will move forward, but we just need your cooperation.”

Councilors first granted developers an option to buy the large building in 2013, agreeing to extend it twice since then. The current option, approved in February 2015, expires next month.

Platz said the group has been busy completing engineering studies of the building, working on designs and talking with tenants. He has brought on a historic consultant to help them qualify for federal historic preservation grants, as well.

The group must have agreements securing at least 200,000 square feet of tenants to qualify for bank financing. So far, both the YMCA and Central Maine Healthcare have signed letters of intent to lease up to 170,000 square feet in the building. Both deals should become formal and signed within the next few months, Platz said.

A baker and caterer is close to signing a lease for 10,000 square feet and an office is looking at another 10,000, he said.

Councilors mostly kept their thoughts to themselves, with only Ward 1’s Jim Lysen speaking up to praise the project.

“The Bates Mill redevelopment is really essential to our city’s future and to our downtown revitalization,” Lysen said.

Lewiston city councilors have gone back and forth on the fate of the building over the past six years. They’ve advanced plans to demolish the building two times before — in March 2010 and again in April 2012. Both times, they’ve stayed the demolitions, giving developers more time to come up with ways to save the structure. In 2010, a group hoped to put a casino in Lewiston.

In 2012, it was Grow L+A.

City councilors voted in 2013 to give the group an option to purchase the building, with the understanding that they would come back with a plan and financing to redevelop the building.

Platz has been involved in the effort since 2013 and he and the group announced plans a year ago to turn the large building into a business center with multiple uses. Those potential uses could include a co-op grocery store, a health and wellness center and business incubator space.

The Auburn-Lewiston YMCA joined the effort in February, announcing its plans to locate a state-of-the-art aquatics and fitness center with room for 5,000 members.

According to the option presented to councilors Tuesday, the city would expand the Lincoln Street garage, connect it to the main building via a bridge and add new curbs and drainage to Mill Street. That would be paid for with new property tax revenues from Bates Mill No. 5 and parking revenues.

Economic Development Director Lincoln Jeffers said councilors could consider those ideas later this year.

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