The former St. Louis Church in Auburn could be redeveloped into 20 market rate apartments. The building has been shuttered since 2013. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The city is considering selling the former St. Louis Church on Dunn Street to a developer looking to renovate it into market rate apartments.

The City Council will vote Monday on a proposal to sell the property to developer Thomas Robinson for $50,000. According to the council agenda, Robinson is proposing to create 20 apartments made up of one and two-bedroom units.

The sale, and the potential redevelopment, would be the first major movement for the property since it transitioned to city ownership in 2019. The church closed in 2013 and was sold a year later to a group that sought to find a workable way to renovate the property, as well as prevent it from being demolished.

However, the group eventually announced it would no longer seek to postpone a pending foreclosure after being unable to secure a viable use for the building.’

The church ended regular services in April 2013, after a 2012 evaluation put repair costs at an estimated $1 million. The decision by the Catholic diocese to abandon the building also prompted attempts to save the church’s bells, which were cast at the world-famous Paccard Bell Foundry in France. The bells are displayed in Anniversary Park off Pulsifer Street in New Auburn.

Mayor Jason Levesque said Friday that the proposal is something that has been sought for years.

“Staff and council have been very specific about any potential developer maintaining the historic character of the building while adding to the vibrancy of the New Auburn neighborhood,” he said.

The council memo said if approved, the developer may seek $250,000 from the downtown incentive fund.

According to a 2014 Sun Journal article, St. Louis Parish was created in 1902 and served the mostly French Canadian neighborhood in New Auburn. Parishioners first gathered in the church’s basement. When they raised enough money, they set to work on the tall, two-spired upper church, designed by architect Timothy G. O’Connell. O’Connell also designed St. Mary’s Church in Lewiston’s Little Canada neighborhood and would later design the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston.

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