AUBURN — The City Council voted unanimously Monday in favor of selling the former St. Louis Church on Dunn Street to a developer looking to renovate the aged building into apartments.

Councilors did not comment on the vote, but the decision is the first major movement for the church that has sat idle and been at risk of demolition since 2013.

The city will sell the property to developer Thomas Robinson for $50,000. Robinson is proposing to create 20 one- and two-bedroom apartments.

According to Jay Brenchick, Auburn’s director of economic development, the city and its brokers conducted 87 showings of the property over the last two years.

“We knew the right opportunity would come along and we are very excited about this project,” he said.

A city press release said Robinson is partnering with Auburn architects Platz Associates for the building design.


“I am truly excited to breathe new life into this unique and beautiful building,” Robinson said. “I understand how meaningful this building is to the community, and I am honored to restore, reinvigorate, and reimagine the space.”

The church ended regular services in April 2013, after a 2012 evaluation put repair costs at an estimated $1 million. Shortly after, it was sold to a group that sought to find a workable way to renovate the property, but it transitioned to city ownership in 2019 after foreclosure.

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

A 2021 evaluation of the structure estimated the cost of repairs of the building’s brickwork, front facade and roof at $940,000.

When the potential sale was first made public Friday, Mayor Jason Levesque said the proposal was 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.


Also on Monday, the council approved $4.5 million for additional costs toward the new Edward Little High School construction project in a final reading.

The additional costs are tied to environmental remediation work for demolishing the existing school on Harris St. The initial budget called for $657,000 for remediation, which then ballooned to more than $5 million. However, officials said the action was simply to update the budget, with the state picking up the entirety of the cost increase.

The council also voted unanimously on a referendum question relating to the increased environmental remediation costs.

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