A “NEW CONSTRUCTION” sign stands Wednesday outside the Fireside Inn & Suites, off exit 75 in Auburn, where a former restaurant and lobby space are coming down and space for four new retailers is going up. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

This week the Buzz is building, looking for buyers and waiting an awfully long time to put a ring on it.

First up: Coming down.

The Auburn Marketplace project received three commercial permits in February for 1779 Washington St. South, according to the monthly report out of the Auburn code office: One for a $15,000 project knocking down the former lobby and restaurant space for the Fireside Inn & Suites, next to the Exit 75; one for $65,000 in foundation and site work; and one for $900,000 to build a new multi-tenant building that includes a drive-thru wrapping around the outside.

When Pythia originally received Auburn Planning Board approval for the project last April, it was pegged as a $200,000 project.

“I know they expanded the building since initial discussions and construction materials and labor have increased significantly,” Eric Cousens, Auburn’s director of planning and permitting, said this week. “They also have traffic-related improvements required that were not part of initial estimates, including signage and striping changes at the adjacent intersection. The latest cost also includes the site work that may have been left out earlier.”

Developer Danny Bouzianis with Auburn Marketplace said Wednesday that he’s building the space for four tenants on spec and doesn’t have leases lined up yet.

The one with the drive-thru could be for food or financial services, he said. “Drive-thrus have gotten popular with the pandemic.”

In related news, Cardinal 6 Maine received a permit for a $120,000 project constructing a vestibule with a second set of sliding doors, along with replacing windows, at the Fireside Inn.

More developers wanted

The city of Auburn has seven properties listed with the Boulos Co., with detailed specs, at the newly launched goauburn.me.

Property highlights on the listings note the potential for development help, with the City Council allocating $1 million toward downtown redevelopment, up to $250,000 per project.

Courtesy Shane Co.

Most end with: “Pricing negotiable for the right project.”

Jay Brenchick, Auburn’s director of economic development, is hoping those “right projects” involve housing.

“We have a high demand for housing in Auburn and fortunately, most of these sites lend themselves to mixed-use, with the potential for restaurant and retail on the first floor and apartments or condos above,” Brenchick said. “The lots at 131 and 186 Main St. and Mechanics Row are all right in the heart of our beautiful downtown and are perfect for mixed-use. And the lot at 15 Academy (St.) offers fabulous views of the river and skyline. 261 Main is right in between New Auburn and downtown and is an ideal site for a two-four unit apartment or condo development. St. Louis Church is a gorgeous historic building with magnificent architectural elements. It will make the perfect project for a developer with a creative mind.”

Proposals wanted?

Jewelry company Shane Co. says it surveyed 3,100 married or engaged couples, at least 50 in each state, to figure out the average length of time people dated before getting engaged around the country.

The national average: 30.3 months.

Indiana and Washington state tied for the shortest average (15 months), Ohio had the longest (48 months) and Maine came in at 42 months, third from the no-need-to-rush-things-dear bottom.

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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