The Dominican Block at Lincoln and Chestnut streets in Lewiston is seen from Lincoln Street in January. Portland developer Jim Brady announced plans to renovate it into upscale apartments on the top three floors and retail space on the ground floor by next year. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — A Portland developer who bought the Dominican Block in December has plans for upscale housing on the upper floors and retail on the first.

Jim Brady, president of Fathom Companies, said Tuesday that he hopes to see the roughly $5 million project start later this year.

Buying the historic building at Lincoln and Chestnut streets marks the company’s first entry into Lewiston.

“I’ve kind of had my eye on a number of different communities outside of Portland,” Brady said. “I’ve been to Lewiston a number of times and saw the growth that’s happening there and some exciting things starting to really transition in a positive way. It’s about the size of a project we did in Portland a couple years ago, 80 Exchange St., and seemed like a ripe opportunity for a historic tax credit rehab into a great building and bring it back to life.”

Opened in January 1883 as a Catholic parish school at 143 Lincoln St., the Dominican Block was designed by Lewiston architect George M. Coombs and listed on the national Register of Historic Places.

New Hampshire-based developer David Clem bought it in 2002 and long had plans to turn the 24,138-square-foot building into office space on the top and potentially a restaurant and bar space below. The city approved plans for an elevator addition, a $2.4 million project, that never happened.


“They had a great vision, a beautiful plan that was put together by Harriman Architects,” Brady said. “I think with so much of the mill space easily converted to offices as well, it wasn’t anything that was making this thing work from an office building perspective, so I think it was just hard for them to find a tenant that made economic sense. Right now, the residential market is obviously strong. We feel confident we’ll be able to put a program in place that will allow us to generate enough of a return to warrant the investment.”

He’s already hired an architect and structural engineer. Brady is looking at a mix of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments on the second, third and fourth floors and adding an elevator and two stairwells inside.

Final plans will have to be approved by the National Park Service and State Historic Preservation Office.

“We’ve already had some preliminary discussions with a few different retailers who would potentially be interested in taking that (first floor) space for some kind of food and beverage outlet, most likely,” Brady said.

He’s hoping design and approval takes about six months with construction starting in the third quarter and wrapped in 2022.

“We’re excited about it,” Brady said. “We think there’s great things coming to Lewiston and that area. We can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Lincoln Jeffers, Lewiston’s director of economic and community development, said the city had been happy working with Clem but his projects had more of a national scope.

“This was really kind of a small project for him that never grabbed his full attention,” Jeffers said. “Jim Brady is Maine-based, has done some great work in this state and is really excited about this project, and we’re really thrilled to have him.”

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