Matt Taggart, president of Emerald River of Maine LLC, hopes to build a new recreational cannabis store at the former McDonald’s location in Lewiston. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

This week, a largely-Lewiston Buzz has new life for the former McDonald’s site off the interstate, a new building proposed behind the former Promenade Mall and a simultaneous goodbye/good luck for a downtown business project.

First up: It’s not a Sonic or a Chick-fil-A.

The former McDonald’s restaurant lot at 1240 Lisbon St., across from the entrance to Exit 80, has been vacant since the building was demolished in the wake of a new McCafe-version of the fast-food restaurant opening just down the street in 2009.

A Lewiston Rocks Facebook post noting the lot’s sale earlier this month and inviting what-will-it-be speculation quickly turned into wistful rumors that another fast-food brand would take its place with those two popular chains quickly rising to the top.

Turns out the post was started by one of the buyers and turns out it’s the hoped-for site of the first of four recreational cannabis shops that three business partners are looking to build in Maine.

Matt Taggart, president of Emerald River of Maine, said he moved here from Massachusetts five years ago with his wife, a Maine native, and had been scouting the state for locations. Lisbon Street caught his eye, reminding him of Holyoke, Massachusetts, with its renovated mills.

“The more I looked into Lewiston, the more I liked that city. It’s clearly trying to redevelop and I want to be a part of something like that,” Taggart said. “(City staff) were so knowledgeable and so kind, that it really helped me make up my mind and my partners agreed.”

The partners have purchased the 1.26-acre lot and are working with the city on local approval for an adult use cannabis store. Once that’s in hand, they’ll work with the state, which Taggart said has given the shop conditional approval.

He hopes the company, which is affiliated with Emerald River in Massachusetts, will have seven to 11 employees per location.

“What’s important to me and the company is to find a neighborhood and enhance it, and that’s why we’re so thrilled about this lot,” Taggart said. “We talked to a couple neighbors already and they’re happy because we’re going to beautify it, we’re going to make this right again. We get to create jobs and help the economy.”

If all approvals come through, he’d like to open in Lewiston in the first quarter of 2021.

And while we’re on Lisbon Street . . .

Next week the Lewiston Planning Board will consider plans for a 64,800-square-foot warehouse to go in behind the former Promenade Mall. It’s been known in more recent years as Gendron Place and home to less retail, more office and storage space.

Mall owner MRE is behind the $2.7 million project.

A letter to the board from consultant Stoneybrook Land Use Inc. indicates the new one-story building would be at the basement level.

Where the mall over the years had been home to retailers like Bradley’s, Service Merchandise, Mr. Paperback and Flagship Cinemas, its largest tenants now are Chapman Trucking and NEPW for warehousing, according to Stoneybrook. Staples and Family Dollar take up retail space and Paychex office space.

“The remaining 60,459 square feet is being renovated and they are talking with several possible tenants for that space,” Stoneybrook wrote.

Construction would start immediately if the board approves the project.

And while we’re on the board . . .

The Lewiston Planning Board last week approved the new 51,800-square-foot Central Maine Medical Center Cancer Center and a 16,000-square-foot warehouse/light industrial building at 10 Gould St. in 7-0 votes, according to City Planner Doug Greene.

The $1 million warehouse project, by 10 Gould Street and developer Tim Millett, has no firm tenant yet but is in discussions with potential tenants, according to its application.

Board members raised some concerns around parking at the $21.7 million hospital project, Greene said.

“The representatives for the hospital responded that hospital employees will park at a renovated and expanded (more available parking spaces) parking lot at 88 Holland St., which will free up visitor parking spaces in the hospital parking garage,” he said. “If parking for the Cancer Center does become a problem, valet parking will be offered. The hospital representative also mentioned that a master plan is being worked on that includes creating more parking.”

And more building still . . .

Twin City code offices were busy last month, issuing building permits for a few projects known to be coming and some that were new.

In Lewiston, it was a 2,158-square-foot commercial building going in at 1128 Lisbon St., former home of the Cathay Hut. Developers KP Realty are behind the $210,000 project and Dunkin’ renovation next door.

In Auburn, Evergreen Subaru officially pulled its permit for a $3.2 million project turning the former Best Buy at 649 Turner St. into its new dealership and service center.

Also in Auburn: a $250,000 project at 429 Maple Hill Road by developer Bradley Kutcher, who is building a 40- by 55-foot barn for a marijuana grow and an $80,000 project at 72 Wrights Landing for a 107- by 158-foot foundation.

For the latter, “Giles Property Management, a concrete and foundations company from the Bangor area, is opening a local branch of their business here,” said Eric Cousens, Auburn’s deputy director of economic and community development.

Corey DuFour stands on the balcony of The Curio on Lisbon Street in Lewiston in July. In the background are his business partners, Sheri Withers Hollenbeck and Stanley Hollenbeck. Last week, they announced that The Curio won’t open as planned. DuFour said he hasn’t entirely given up hope about it opening someday, just differently. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

The end . . . or not?

After two years of renovation and planning, and on the eve of opening, partners behind The Curio: Art, Ale & Oddities last week announced that the effort was off in the former Lamey Wellehan shoe store downtown: “Our main service was to create an events space and not being able to host events in the foreseeable future has really changed our business model.”

Sheri Withers Hollenbeck said this week that with it getting colder, and not being able to have outdoor seating and events, “we think it is the best option at this time. Jim Wellehan will be taking the building back. He has had a few local established businesses reach out about using the space.”

Hollenbeck said she’ll be getting a home kitchen license to continue catering as Hollenbeck Homesteading and creating an art subscription service with local artists.

“The Hive artists can choose to submit a print, jewelry, T-shirt, something handcrafted,” she said. “Some months will have themes or a larger set of art. (I’m) excited to get local artists’ stuff out since there is no Indie Market or craft fairs this year.”

Corey DuFour, another of The Curio partners, said he’ll continue work at Kimball Street Studios and with the L/A Art Walk Committee.

Also, while it may not open as originally envisioned or by who was originally envisioned, he’s not tossing in the towel fully.

“I’ve been meeting with investors and potential business partners in hopes of opening the Curio,” he said. “I’m not ready to give up on the dream just yet.”

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]


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