Bates Mill No. 5 with its black saw-toothed roof is seen in August 2019. The city will extend an option agreement with developer Tom Platz for the purchase of the mill. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal 2019 file photo Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — The city has inked a new deal with developer Tom Platz — this time calling it a “final” agreement — for the purchase and redevelopment of Bates Mill No. 5.

The five-year option agreement sets new parameters between the city and Platz, who has found success in redeveloping the rest of the Bates Mill complex. But, redeveloping the hulking, 350,000-square-foot Mill No. 5 has been elusive.

The new agreement, running through February 2026, includes milestones Platz must meet over the course of the agreement, as well as an amended parking agreement with the city. It also commits Platz to completing two public art installations on or adjacent to Mill No. 5 during the five-year term.

In a 5-1 vote Tuesday, officials said the new agreement is more favorable to the city, while continuing Lewiston’s long-standing partnership with the developer responsible for revitalizing the rest of the mill complex. It’s the fifth such agreement between the city and Platz since 2015.

The potential timing of the purchase has been complicated by a federal Brownfields grant that will pay for some of the needed environmental remediation work at the mill. Under the terms of the grant, the city must own the property while the work takes place. The grant, which is expected to pay for roughly half the final price tag, must be spent by September 2022.

“We really can’t convey this until next summer at the earliest,” said Lincoln Jeffers, director of economic and community development, on Tuesday.


Misty Parker, economic development manager, said Platz has agreed to provide regular updates on progress, which includes securing tenants.

“It really brings it to an agreement where we can still support the redevelopment, but in a manner that works for both the city and Mr. Platz,” she said Tuesday.

A separate, unanimous vote approved the new parking agreement, which essentially cuts in half the number of required parking spaces related to the redevelopment that the city is responsible for.

According to a city memo, the system used for Platz to initiate the development of new parking spaces is stipulated by the square footage of new commercial space beginning renovation. The amended agreement will now determine parking demand based on garage utilization.

Mayor Mark Cayer said the city has been talking about renegotiating the parking agreement for a decade, and told city staff, “Really nice job getting us to that place.”

The amended parking agreement, however, does not cover parking that will be needed for Mill No. 5. According to the memo, parking for Mill No. 5 will need to be negotiated between both parties as part of a joint development agreement when redevelopment plans for the mill move forward.


Councilor Lee Clement, who said he has been critical of the city’s previous agreements related to Mill No. 5, said he supported the new agreements.

“I know this has been a thorn in many people’s sides for a long time,” he said. “Hopefully this time we can bring this whole thing to fruition.”

Councilor Luke Jensen provided the lone dissenting vote, stating that he disagreed with labeling it the final agreement and with some of the benchmarks.

Jensen said he believes Lewiston is “getting closer” to having market conditions “where something like this can happen,” but said stipulating the agreement as the final one could hamstring progress.

Jeffers said a public hearing is scheduled for March 30 to discuss the plans for addressing the environmental issues in the building.

Since the city took over the property in 1992, there have been decades of discussion on whether to demolish or redevelop the property. City officials have said that regardless of whether the mill is redeveloped or demolished, the environmental issues in the mill need to be mitigated.

Last year, Ransom Environmental was hired to oversee the project, which includes the removal of asbestos, lead paint, and the encapsulation of PCBs, a group of artificial chemicals that were widely used in electrical equipment.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story