LEWISTON — City crews will tear down a three-story tenement at 32 Horton St. that was a target of the Maine People’s Alliance anti-slumlord efforts last August.

Councilors voted 6-1 to put the property on the city’s demolition list, over the objections of owner Rick Lockwood of Gorham.

Lewiston Code Enforcement Officer Tom Maynard and Director Gil Arsenault told city councilors Tuesday that the building is a perfect example of a dangerous slum, with severe water damage and walls denuded of plaster.

“There is still trash in the property, and anybody that drives by will see,” Arsenault said. “There’s a mattress on the property, there are broken windows. I was there today and it is very dangerous.”

Arsenault said the city took Lockwood to court last year, agreeing to let him keep one tenant in a first-floor apartment for security purposes while he renovated the rest of the building.

“By July 1, that building was to be fully occupied, with all permits and up to code,” Arsenault said. “Clearly that has not happened.”


Arsenault said Lockwood moved tenants into the other units in the spring of 2016, despite the fact that it was not fit for occupancy.

“That was totally against the court order,” Arsenault said. “The building is dangerous, and there should not be occupants in those locations.”

Lockwood responded by saying city officials were being unfair.

The water damage occurred this winter when someone broke into the building, leaving it open to the cold, freezing and bursting the pipes.

He removed plaster from the walls this spring at the direction of his insurance company in an effort to repair the water damage and let the building dry out.

“I’m not sure how this is all being driven,” Lockwood said. “I have a passion for fixing my properties, and this is one building I want to keep. It’s in a nice quiet neighborhood, there’s not a lot of trouble over there and not long ago it was fully occupied.”


Lockwood said any property in Lewiston is going to face problems from time to time and he wanted the chance to fix his. His building needs repairs, but it is structurally sound.

“The way he’s presenting this case, it makes me sick to my stomach,” Lockwood said. “There are two sides to every story, and just because a landlord is a landlord that does not mean he is wrong all the time.”

But councilors took their staff’s advice, moving to tear the structure down.

“If I owned 10 buildings and one building was that much of a mess, I would have serious concerns as to my capacity to handle this — speaking for myself,” Councilor Michael Lachance said.

Councilors agreed, voting to put the property on the demolition list. Lockwood vowed to appeal the council’s decision to the courts.

Maine People’s Alliance and then-mayoral candidate Ben Chin used the property as a backdrop in August 2015 as they kicked off a campaign aimed at forcing Lockwood and two other area landlords to clean up their properties.

The group alleged that the property was one of the most unsafe in Lewiston, and claimed that 70 more across the city were nearly as bad. They alleged code violations, including broken fire alarms, lead paint, mold, bed bugs and fleas. They said that tenants that complained were retaliated against by Lockwood and the other landlords.

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