A private developer sees a variety of possibilities for the former Worumbo Mill Site at Lisbon Falls, with housing and business options among possible uses.

The town’s consultant, Howard Kohn, on Wednesday presented four options that all include a waterfront park, parking space and room for recreation.

The first option presented will have a waterfront park, parking space, and recreation space on the site.

“This scenario will not have any traditional economic activity that would bring direct benefits to the town, irrespective of who owns it,” said Kohn. “There are no tax revenues that would come into Lisbon from this, and there is absolutely no direct return that the development community in this scenario can effectuate.”

While there is an option for community events to happen on the site like a farmers market, graduation parties, family and school reunions, Khon said they are all seasonal and have their limitations.

The second redevelopment option suggested was a waterfront park with residential housing and office space.

An aerial view Thursday afternoon shows the Androscoggin River, below, bordering the the former Worumbo mill site in Lisbon Falls. The parcel is being considered for development. Visit sunjournal.com to watch a video flyover and archival photos from the past. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

According to the redevelopment draft plan, nearly 20 to 24 housing units and four office spaces can come up on the site.

“This is a housing option with amenities where direct revenues could flow in or a minimum of $66,000 a year to Lisbon with and $1.3 million over 20 years,” said Kohn. “It provides the housing that is desperately needed. You can make a lot of improvements to the site in this scenario.”

The third option suggested includes a waterfront park, residential housing with lesser units, and a restaurant.

Kohn said having a restaurant on the site may not be viable. Considering the amount of rent a developer could get for a commercial property in Lisbon, it is difficult to justify the construction cost.

The final option is to have a waterfront park with boutique size business opportunities.

Fern Larochelle, owner of Fern Body Shop in Lisbon Falls and a member of Save the View, a local business owners group that aims to preserve the former mill site, said most of the businesses around the area had pushed the idea of having a waterfront park at the site, but disliked the idea of housing.

“Most of the businesses in the city do not equate the idea of having residential housing on the site as being a benefit,” said Larochelle. “Lisbon is blessed to have Androscoggin River run through it, which is a big asset, and this site is the best opportunity that we have to use that asset.”

Larochelle hopes the committee members weigh out all options by the next few weeks.

“There are a lot of different options,” said Larochelle. “I think you do need to put all your options forward and allow the community to choose the best option that they feel is fitting for our town.”

Lisbon Economic and Development Director Brett Richardson said all four options are boon for the community.

“Each one includes a large park, what would be the largest park in Lisbon Falls, including the options that have development,” said Richardson. “If we could have development that generates benefits in revenue for the village while having a community space for events, that is to me, the highest and best use.”

He believes the site can accommodate all those uses.

The committee members will present all the four redevelopment options to the town council members for their approval on Feb. 1.

“We will incorporate the feedback from the last night’s meeting and fine-tune the options and then share those with the town council,” said Richardson. “We will do a deeper dive analysis on parking implications and financial implications later in February.”

He said they would also have simple sketches and site plans created so that the residents can see how different approaches to orienting the buildings can maintain river views, a large community park, and support development that will generate some tax revenue for the town.


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