Beech Street properties in Lewiston. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — Activity on the city’s riverfront continues to pile up, with the owners of the former Pamco Mill forwarding plans for 33 housing units and commercial space.

Developer’s Collaborative, a Portland-based company with multiple projects in Lewiston and Auburn, purchased the former mill at 35 Beech St. in 2014, but has finally submitted a site plan for  redevelopment.

The plan includes 33 units of workforce housing in a mix of studio and one- and two-bedroom units, along with 10,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space.

According to Mike Lyne, project manager, the plan for the commercial space, while still being hammered out, is an incubator space aimed at artists, with a nod to the heritage of the mill. He said it could be a blend of studio, classroom or training space for artists, but with an emphasis on textiles.

He said that might mean using some of the ground-floor space for workforce training, as well.

“For lack of a better term right now we’re kind of envisioning it as a kind of textile hub,” he said. “There are some smaller, younger companies that are getting into the apparel manufacturing business in the state of Maine and they need a trained workforce.”

The mill was operated by Pamco Machinery Co., which specialized in restoring shoe manufacturing equipment, until 2014. The building also had other tenants, including Maine-Line Leather and an antiques store.

Lincoln Jeffers, director of Economic and Community Development, said the developers would “like to see people living and working in the same building.”

According to Jeffers, the developer has applied for low-income housing tax credits through MaineHousing to make rents affordable, and is also pursuing grant funding “to assist in the analysis and creation of textile or food industry incubator space.”

The Planning Board is set to take up the site plan Aug. 26.

Earlier this week, The City Council unanimously approved granting an easement for the property, which will allow vehicles to drive around the building and provide access for emergency vehicles. Lyne said Tuesday that it will also make it safer for pedestrians to enter.

The city owns an L-shaped slice of land at 49 Beech St. Jeffers said the easement preserves enough space between the property and the canal for the city to develop green space and extend the riverwalk in the future.

“It makes the building function much better than it would without the easement,” he said.

Developer’s Collaborative has dozens of projects in the state, including some in the Lewiston area. The company developed Birch Hill Apartments senior housing and Healy Terrace affordable housing in Lewiston. The company also has a 36-unit project underway on Minot Avenue in Auburn.

Lyne said Friday that their idea for a commercial makerspace, a collaborative workspace, would be their “first foray” into building spaces in conjunction with housing, “which appeals to us.”

Jeffers said the developers have considered a variety of redevelopment options, but originally bought the mill because they were excited about the city’s Riverfront Island Master Plan, which envisions the redevelopment of the riverfront.

The Beech Street area, running toward the river from Canal Street along Simard-Payne Memorial Park, has seen plenty of development activity in recent years, including plans for the future home of Museum L-A at 1 Beech St., just next door, as well as a new bridge to the island.

On the other side, the hulking Continental Mill is also in line for redevelopment, with a new owner that is looking to turn the 560,000-square-foot mill into a mix of market-rate apartments and commercial or light industrial uses.


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