AUBURN — Developer John Gendron is moving ahead with an effort to develop land off Gracelawn Road, and has applied for a traffic movement permit from the Maine Department of Transportation.

As part of the application, Gendron’s team submitted a master plan for the site that shows roughly 1,100 housing units on 88 acres made up of apartments and townhomes. A required public notice for the permit application appeared in the Sun Journal this week.

Zach Lingley, a consultant for Gendron, said Thursday that the development team plans a more formal announcement — as well as community informational sessions — later this spring “that will provide greater detail into what the project should look like upon completion, when these units will be available for rent, and how we plan to work with the city of Auburn and the state of Maine to make sure this project complements existing neighborhoods and businesses in the area.”

The land, lying between the Auburn Mall area and Lake Auburn, has been at the center of a communitywide debate and lawsuit over water quality at Lake Auburn. The announcement from Gendron comes just a week after the Auburn Water District filed a motion in Cumberland County Superior Court to dismiss Lewiston’s lawsuit against it regarding changes within the Lake Auburn watershed.

Land between Gracelawn Road and Lake Auburn in Auburn owned by developer John Gendron of Auburn has been part of the debate between Lewiston and Auburn officials over the Lake Auburn watershed boundary and water quality protection. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Last year, after Auburn rezoned all 148 acres of Gendron’s property for commercial development, a public petition effort reversed the new zoning. Since then, a debate has continued over how much of the land should be considered part of the watershed boundary and how much should be used for development.

Gendron, who lives in Auburn and is president and CEO of Gendron & Gendron, a commercial construction company in Lewiston, said in a statement that the traffic movement permit is “a first step in the process,” and that he will also pursue a petition to rezone the land later this spring “and will work with the city to determine necessary upgrades to city water and sewer systems.”


Lingley said the project would be a mixed-use development that aims to include senior housing units, walking paths and a recreation center in addition to the “working-class, attainable housing units that Maine currently lacks.”

He said the initial Master Plan, which includes a map of proposed new roads, the number of units, and a detailed explanation of the proposed recreation facility, were all included in the state filing. The permit is required before the city of Auburn can approve the site plan review, he said.

“We are excited and feel that this is an environmentally responsible project that meets the needs of the city of Auburn and the state of Maine,” he said.

“Every week I read about the Maine housing crisis,” Gendron said. “I hear that rents in Auburn are outrageous and that generational families are being priced out of the city. I truly think that this can be a model project for other Maine cities that want to build attractive housing for working class Maine families. “

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