An engineering drawing shows the concept of the proposed DeWitt development along Park Street in Lewiston, which will build 104 units and commercial space in two buildings. City of Lewiston

LEWISTON — The Planning Board approved a development and subdivision review for a 104-unit apartment complex to be built on the Pine Street block between Park and Bates streets that faces Kennedy Park.

The redevelopment, known as Dewitt, is the second phase of the Choice Neighborhoods initiative, an ambitious plan that is using a $30 million federal grant to replace distressed housing and build momentum for further development downtown.

The project will demolish the two buildings on the block, including 40 Pine St., the former bank and Sun Journal office.

The two new five-story buildings will each feature 52 units, with a combined 14,000 square feet of commercial space on the ground floors. It will also feature a plaza that connects the two buildings and opens to the park.

The development team of Avesta Housing and Lewiston Housing said the proposed mixed-use building is in line with the stated goals of the current zoning, as well as the Choice “transformation plan.”

A memo said it “prioritizes a higher concentration of economic activity that creates a strong pedestrian presence and
increases consumer activity, while still addressing the need for new housing in the city’s downtown.”


Sam Lebel, an engineer working on the development, told the board that the project design was meant to work with and complement planned changes to that section of Pine Street along Kennedy Park, including pedestrian crossing sidewalk bump outs, and more on-street parking. The changes will replace the diagonal parking on Pine Street to standard parallel parking.

Lebel said the team focused on “placemaking” and enhancing the pedestrian experience. He said with City Hall and the park right there, “this is the true downtown and we wanted Pine Street to feel that way.”

A memo said to “complement the buildings, the site design features a rejuvenation of the streetscape” that includes “rebuilding and enlarging sidewalks,” and “incorporating street trees.”

The developers are planning to place 42 parking spaces behind the buildings, and keep parking limited to the commercial tenants and customers. Parking for residential tenants will be offered at nearby municipal garages.

A map included in the 250-page “transformation plan” shows two of the proposed redevelopment sites, in orange, the Dewitt block along Pine Street and the Wedgewood development between Pine and Bartlett streets. Submitted image

Catherine Elliot, development officer for Avesta Housing, said demolishing 40 Park St. will require state approval due to its age.

Jesse Thompson of Kaplan Thompson Architects said many of the design elements were chosen to break up the facades of the buildings and also give nods to historical elements in Lewiston buildings. They include “juliet” balconies on some of the units.


The developers are requesting a waiver from the city in order to forego a few details of Lewiston’s required design elements, including the percentage of the buildings that must be windows. Thompson said “the intent is not to create a boring building, but address building efficiency, and to place windows in appropriate places.”

No one spoke during a public hearing.

Planning Board members were generally supportive of the project. Member Shanna Cox questioned the plan to have one building feature some 4,000 square feet in commercial space, while the other will have 10,000. She said that while having the demand for 10,000 would be great, she worries about flexibility.

Thompson said it is the developers’ intention to build the space so that it could be “subdivided” into smaller separate commercial uses. She also said there will be community amenities in at least one of the buildings.

Board member Michael Marcotte questioned the ability of the development to address poor visibility for vehicles at the intersection of Pine and Bates street. Currently, a building stands directly on the corner and one of the Dewitt buildings will be built at a similar position.

However, Lebel said the new building will be set back at least 5 feet — which the current building isn’t — and there would be additional elements like curb bump outs to assist pedestrians.

The board unanimously recommended in favor of the waiver requests, as well as the development review, with conditions. Included in the conditions if proof of financing. The project does not have fully committed financing yet, but is in process, staff said.

A groundbreaking for the first phase of Choice, the 82-unit Wedgewood development, will take place July 24.

A concept image shows the general design and building elevation for two, 52-unit buildings along Pine Street that make up the Dewitt development. Submitted image

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