The revised housing plan on Avon Street would consolidate 245 units into two large buildings, one proposed for five stories. (City of Lewiston submission)

LEWISTON — The Planning Board on Monday will review an amended proposal for a 245-unit apartment complex at the former Pineland Lumber Co. property on Avon Street.

The units would be either studio or one-bedroom apartments catered toward staff at Central Maine Medical Center on Main Street and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center on Campus Avenue.

The plan to consolidate the housing units into two large, connected buildings received initial approval from the City Council this week and heads to the Planning Board for a public hearing.

A contract zone approved in April laid out plans for two, four-story buildings on the larger riverfront parcel, each containing 105 units, with a third, 35-unit building across the street.

However, the amended plan calls for consolidating the units into larger buildings along the river, with one bumped up to five stories. That building would have 117 units, while the four-story building would house 128.

The parcel across Avon Street is now additional parking under the plan, including three covered garages.

When the developer, Saxon Partners, went through the rezoning process this spring, company representatives described the project as market-rate apartments aimed at medical staff from Lewiston’s two hospitals.

Among the concerns from neighbors during that process were parking and traffic, as well as the economic viability of the proposal.

At the time, Brian Leahy, director of acquisitions for Saxon, told city officials the units will be marketed toward medical staff but will be “open to anyone willing to pay market rate.”

Leahy said there are more than 4,000 staff between the two hospitals, adding, “We believe there’s a need for this type of housing.”

An attorney for Saxon, James Bass, told the City Council this week that as the company delved into the plans, they found that creating a single structure would allow “better efficiencies.”

However, the initial rezoning pertaining to 10 Avon St., the largest of the parcels, set the density at 210 units and a per-unit standard of 1,180 square feet. Now, developers would like to eliminate the density limit to allow for 245 units, and knock down the square footage to 1,000.

If for some reason the Planning Board rejects the amendments to the rezoning, the City Council could still approve it with a supermajority vote.

In response to questions from councilors, City Planner Doug Greene said the building at 10 Avon St. would be larger to accommodate all the units, but the increase to five stories in one building was not mentioned.

The project as proposed would result in about $775,000 in taxes annually, and would provide an easement for a second water connection to Lewiston, as well as an easement for eventually extending the riverwalk.

The public hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

The former Pineland Lumber Co., foreground, along the banks of the Androscoggin River in Lewiston is being considered for a large housing development, mainly for medical staff. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal


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