Jon Smith, left, owner of Great Falls Construction Inc. in Gorham, and John Blais, deputy director of Auburn’s Planning, Permitting and Code Department, stand Monday as they prepare groundwork for a housing project behind them at 186 Main St. Smith purchased the lot from the city. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — It’s not much to look at now, but Great Falls Construction company President Jon Smith said Monday that plans for the small plot at 186 Main St. will start taking shape this summer.

The project has been in the works for several years and originally included Mason’s Brewery as a primary commercial tenant. But as the Buzz reported May 1, the brewery suspended its plans and secured a location in Machias.

Smith said his plans have not changed but were delayed by the discovery of contaminated soil at the site.

John Blais, deputy director of Auburn’s Planning, Permitting and Code Department, said the site has been cleaned up down to bedrock. The Gorham company has submitted its plans, and all the work is permitted and approved.

The lot is along the Androscoggin River, which is an aspect that attracted Smith and his company from the beginning. He said the project will enhance the downtown experience.

The build will be a challenge, partly because the site is 0.16 acre and on a steep incline leading to Main Street. A large retaining wall will have to be removed to excavate the site, which will have access from Main Street and the lower level parking lot next to the Androscoggin River.


An architectural rendering shows the housing and commercial development planned by Great Falls Construction Inc. of Gorham at 186 Main St. in Auburn. Developer Jon Smith said it will start taking shape this summer. Submitted photo

Smith said plans include 18 market-rate apartments — a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. The ground floor and basement will be commercial space for a 5,000-square-foot restaurant and a smaller space for retail or other business. Smith is looking for tenants for both spaces. Parking will be on-street and in the Mechanics Row parking garage.

Smith expects to break ground in July and complete the work in 18 months.

He commended city officials for their support. “The city of Auburn has been outstanding to work with.”

This lot seen Monday is the site for an apartment and commercial building planned by Great Falls Construction of Gorham at 186 Main St. in Auburn near the Androscoggin River. Company owner Jon Smith said construction will begin in July and take about 18 months. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

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