A rendering in Lewiston’s housing plan shows what the redevelopment on Pine and Pierce streets could look like. The project includes four renovated units in the historic Wedgewood building. Submitted photo

LEWISTON — The first phase of construction for Lewiston’s Choice Neighborhoods initiative is closer to reality this week after receiving additional funding.

The city and its development partners were awarded MaineHousing tax credits this week toward the first of three major sites — a 74-unit mixed-income development between Pine, Walnut, Bartlett and Pierce streets.

Earlier this year, Lewiston became the smallest city ever to receive the $30 million redevelopment grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is slated to bring $100 million worth of investment into the city, creating 185 new housing units over three sites in the Tree Streets neighborhood.

When the grant was announced in May, officials said that while 70% of the funding was earmarked for the three redevelopment sites, the projects would still require financing, which fell to the city’s partners Avesta Housing and the Lewiston Housing Authority.

A MaineHousing announcement this week listed the project — known as site 2, or the Wedgewood block development — among recipients of low-income housing tax credits, which will allow 49 of the 74 units to be designated affordable.

Misty Parker, Lewiston economic development manager, said Thursday that the first phase has an estimated cost of $25 million and the tax credits will leverage more than $8 million of investment in the project.

“Combined with the Choice Neighborhoods implementation funding, the low-income housing tax credits award is a true game changer for this work,” she said. “This is just the start of significant investment in transforming the Tree Streets neighborhood, which will strengthen the Lewiston community as a whole.”

The Tree Streets neighborhood is 12 blocks in the downtown where nearly half of residents live below the federal poverty level. It’s considered the poorest neighborhood in the state and has one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning.

According to Avesta Housing, the property will be developed by Avesta and owned and managed by the Lewiston Housing Authority.

Catherine Elliott, development officer for Avesta Housing, said Thursday that Avesta was “thrilled” with the award this week.

Parker said the city’s next steps will include working with residents, partners and the Tree Streets community on the site plan, lining up the remaining funding and selecting a contractor.

A map included in the 250-page Lewiston housing plan shows two of the proposed redevelopment sites, in orange, one along Pine Street and the Wedgewood development between Pine and Bartlett streets. Submitted image

“We aim for construction at Wedgewood to start in fall 2022 and anticipate construction will take over a year,” she said. “We’re grateful to MaineHousing for recognizing the critical work we are doing here in Lewiston. We look forward to continuing to work on the housing-related aspects of this work and growing the range of opportunities that Choice will provide for residents in the community.”

The Wedgewood development, as shown in the Choice Neighborhoods plan, will include a broader mix of housing styles, including duplexes, along with four renovated units in the historic Wedgewood house.

The other development sites planned in the Choice Neighborhoods effort include a 66-unit, mixed-income housing development with ground floor commercial space along Pine Street, across from Kennedy Park; and the eventual replacement of the Maple Knoll housing complex with between 13 and 15 townhouse-style homes.

The project was among two in Lewiston to be awarded funding this week from MaineHousing. Also receiving funding was The Szanton Co., which is developing 72 units of mixed-income housing at the Continental Mill on Lewiston’s riverfront.

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