The historic Lewiston train depot is home to the Royal Oak Room, a wedding and special events venue. Submitted photo

LEWISTON — How could a rebirth of passenger rail service change downtown?

As part of the Build Maine urban planning conference, one of Thursday’s “Beer and Brainstorm” sessions at the Royal Oak Room — itself a former train station — will be imagining what the downtown would look like if rail service were to come back.

The concept is called transit oriented development, said Lincoln Jeffers, Lewiston’s director of economic and community development.

“Really what the conversion will be about will be saying: ‘OK, we’ve got a hospital right up the hill, we’ve got Bates College nearby, we’ve got St. Mary’s nearby, we’ve got downtown and the Bates Mill complex. If we brought rail back to the downtown, what sort of development might it spark and what sort of things would you like to see?” Jeffers said.

Lewiston, Auburn, the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority and Maine Department of Transportation are in the homestretch of the Lewiston–Auburn Passenger Rail Service Plan study.

That brainstorming session is one of several being held between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday at 1 Bates St. It is free and open to the public.

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