LIVERMORE FALLS — A new health care center on Main Street will help revive the downtown business district that has struggled for two decades to find a developer for the site, the town manager said.

The Androscoggin Valley Medical Arts Center opened its doors recently after Franklin Memorial Hospital, which is in Farmington and owns the new business, completed the $4 million construction project last month at 21 Main St.

The 13,500-square-foot regional health center is bringing more people to the community and may attract new businesses to develop other vacant downtown buildings and lots, Town Manager Kristal Flagg said.

Town officials had spent 20 years searching for a way to find a tenant for the former retail mall, which has been replaced by the new medical center that filled a big hole in the important downtown block, she said.

The one-story center has a brick front façade designed to blend in with the existing downtown architecture. It was opened to consolidate the hospital’s regional outpatient and family practice health care services that had been provided at two other sites in Livermore Falls, according to Jill Gray, community relations manager for Franklin Memorial Hospital.

About 25 employees are working out of the new center, which has retained the staffing from the other sites, Gray said.

Town officials, community leaders and residents were involved in the center’s planning process, taking part in committees, public meetings and hearings that guided the project to the downtown location, Flagg said.

Town selectmen also worked with hospital officials to secure a state grant to assist with the project’s funding, she said.

The Maine Office of Community Development within the Department of Economic Community Development awarded $350,000 to the town to offset construction and site-work costs, according to Gray.

Flagg did not know how much unoccupied space exists in downtown buildings, saying there are several empty storefronts and other vacant multipurpose property. But she believes the vacancy may soon be filled by businesses seeking to cater to the added daily traffic downtown from workers and patients at the new center, which opened Jan. 23.

“We’re hopeful with them here it might bring other new employment and new businesses to the area and give a boost to the local economy,” Flagg said.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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