Construction on the “Scruton Block” building at 197 Lisbon St., the former Marcotte Furniture building, has been slow but workers have erected scaffolding on the Pine Street side and were making progress on Wednesday morning Feb. 5, 2020. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — A downtown redevelopment project that has hit a few roadblocks could be completed this year with the help of a tax-increment financing agreement with the city.

Following a workshop Tuesday, the City Council is poised to approve a TIF agreement this month with the developer of 197 Lisbon St., the former Marcotte Furniture building at the corner of Pine Street.

If approved, the project featuring 12 market rate apartments and street-level commercial space will be completed this year. According to the developer, a tenant is ready to move in this summer.

Jules Patry, who also owns DaVinci’s Eatery in Lewiston, purchased the building in 2017 but his redevelopment effort has since hit several unanticipated design setbacks, including sidewalk improvements associated with a required second means of egress, and modifications for stormwater separation.

The TIF agreement would return 40% of the increased assessed value resulting from the project to Patry. Over the life of the 15-year TIF, Patry would receive $99,177, while the city would get $148,766.

According to a City Council memo, estimates for the sidewalk improvements combined with the required stormwater separation are about $100,000.

The building, also known as the Scruton Block, was flagged by a state fire marshal prior to redevelopment for lacking a second means of egress.

Patry said Tuesday that due to the grade level along the Pine Street side, which slopes down considerably, the height currently doesn’t allow for full-length doors. That means the work will include altering the Pine Street grade by shifting the sidewalk and building a retaining wall.

Last year, the council gave Patry the OK to make the necessary sidewalk improvements from Lisbon Street to Canal Street Alley.

Patry said the stormwater separation needs associated with the project will require installation of new piping from Pine Street to Canal Street.

According to the city, the total project cost is $2.3 million. The City Council was largely supportive Tuesday.

“I’m super in support of this,” Councilor Alicia Rea said. “You’re proven in this community for doing really great work and turning some buildings around.”

Rea added that anyone looking to redevelop the building would be faced with the same requirements.

Councilor Stephanie Gelinas thanked Patry for his “interest in continued investment in this city.”

Mayor Mark Cayer said removing the building’s former metal facade has already changed the block for the better.

“It’s going to be a handsome building,” Patry said.

Most recently, the building housed Compass Coin and Jewelry.

Prior to requesting the TIF, Patry explored using Community Development Block Grant programs to close the financing gap. But according to a memo from Misty Parker, economic development manager in Lewiston, the project is not eligible since the residential units will be market rate. As a result, the project would not meet low income benefit requirements, Parker said.

Parker said Patry also explored incorporating affordable units, but that the lower rents “would also not support the project.”

“The city has been working hard to increase the number of high-quality market rate apartments in the downtown, specifically on Lisbon Street,” she said. “Existing CDBG programs are limited in supporting this goal and the small size of downtown projects adds a further challenge to making redevelopment financially viable.”

Patry’s building was also a central piece in the city’s effort to register the larger downtown area as a historic district. At the time, city officials said Patry’s building was not eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, but would be considered a “contributing structure” if located within a National Register Historic District.

The downtown area encompassing 90 buildings was dubbed the Downtown Lisbon Street/Main Street National Register Historic District.

A public hearing and council vote on the TIF agreement will be held Tuesday, Feb. 18.


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