A rendering of a new Olive Garden for Turner Street, submitted to the Auburn Planning Board.

This week the Buzz is making things official in Auburn, building more solar and looking for a new owner for a Lewiston landmark.

First up: Smell those breadsticks?

The Auburn Planning Board approved the new Olive Garden for 649 Turner St. on Tuesday night. It’s the site of the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant.

Developers received both a sought-after setback waiver and additional shared signs.

“That passed fairy easily — it’s a great spot for a restaurant, there’s already one there,” Director of Planning and Permitting Eric Cousens said. “I know that they’ve already accepted bids for the demolition of Ruby Tuesday. I don’t know exactly what the construction schedule is, but I expect that to start this fall or winter.”

Trillium Engineering Group will next apply for a demolition permit. The smaller Ruby Tuesday is coming down to make way for the 6,600-square-foot, $1.1 million Olive Garden proposed last month and rumored since early this year.

Messages left for Trillium and an Olive Garden spokeswoman to ask about an anticipated opening timeline weren’t returned Wednesday.

An artist rendering for a new 128-unit development proposed for Mount Auburn Avenue in Auburn by developer A.R. Building Company of Pennsylvania.

JUST UP THE ROAD

Also officially underway: 128 housing units by A.R. Building Company, next to BJ’s Wholesale Club on Mount Auburn Avenue.

The units will be a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments in two four-story buildings connected by a clubhouse. Amenities will include a gym, pool and in-unit laundry.

That project also received a unanimous Planning Board vote.

Cousens said construction should start this winter or spring with a 24- to 36-month build.

“They’re going to contribute to a sidewalk connection to tie into the existing city sidewalks as well as some expanded sidewalks that the city is planning for next summer,” he said. “We’ve been making a big push to improve connectivity for pedestrians in the mall area.”

AND SPEAKING OF THE MALL AREA

The Boulos Co. is marketing four outparcel sites around the Auburn Mall, one in front of JCPenney, facing Center Street, and three on the Panera Bread side of the mall.

They’re described as ranging from 3,000 to 15,000 square feet with drive-thru availability.

Space is also being marketed in the Hobby Lobby Plaza kitty-corner from the new housing development.

Move hundreds of residents in and more retail will come?

Hopefully, partner/broker Craig Young said.

“I would expect more increased interest in retail and retail outparcels as more housing is developed,” Young said. “There has not been a lot of interest in the retail lots since COVID started, but I trust that will change as we continue to see bettering health and economic conditions post-COVID.”

 

Vincent McEachern made the table with The Cage logo on it about 5 years ago and is a regular at the Lewiston landmark on Ash Street. Wednesday afternoon he was sitting just off camera talking with the bartender and others about rumors of the building’s sale. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

NEW OWNER WANTED

Tripadvisor’s No. 1-rated nightlife spot in Lewiston is up for sale.

The Cage is on the market.

The longtime bar at 97 and 99 Ash St., with five additional units, is for sale for $400,000. It’s described in the real estate listing as a “well established turnkey business with great success for 50 years” with a Class A lounge and restaurant license.

A man who identified himself as one of the owners Wednesday said he didn’t want to talk about the sale.

Tripadvisor reviewers have been more effusive over the years.

“Having gone to school in Lewiston 30+ years ago, my friends and I have a certain affinity for The Cage,” a reviewer from Massachusetts wrote. “It is that old-time, local bar, where locals congregate. Visitors like us, who stop in for a few hours once every summer, are the minority. As long as you are not looking for trouble and leave before it’s dark, all should be fine. It is in rough shape, which (is) part of its charm and it may or may not be serving food, which is just fine. . . I hope The Cage is around for another 30+ years for us to experience. I introduced my son to it when he was 25 and he thought it was pretty cool. I will let you decide for yourself.”

The Cage is continuing to advertise karaoke nights on social media and the real estate listing notes that it hosts pool and shuffle ball leagues.

BUT WHAT ARE THE OTHER TOP THREE NIGHTLIFE SPOTS?

According to Tripadvisor, No. 2 is the recently sold Buddy T’s, No. 3 Blue Goose Tavern and No. 4. Little Joe’s.

FINALLY, BACK IN AUBURN

A new 2.5-megawatt, $5.2 million solar project is headed to 20 acres at 100 Penley Corner Road.

The project is by Nexamp Solar, which is currently wrapping up a 5-megawatt project in Auburn on Riverside Drive.

“This will be on the same property owner’s property, but a different parcel,” Cousens said. “Roger Gauthier is a lifelong farmer in South Auburn and he’s not able to work the land as hard as he’s used to and he’s looking to diversify his income so he can continue to operate the farm.”

Cousens said some members of the public voiced concerns to the Planning Board about whether solar development is appropriate in Auburn’s agricultural zone.

“Their concerns were about the ordinance, more so, than the project itself,” he said. “(The board) can’t change the ordinance, they’re just applying the one that exists.”

The board approved the project Tuesday on a 6-1 vote.

On Riverside, Nexamp’s “erosion control has been impeccable,” Cousens said. “They’ve done a great job with the siting of the panels. They’ve given tours and they’ve offered additional tours to elected officials if they would like them. They’ve done an outstanding job so far.”

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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