A crew from St. Laurent & Sons Excavation demolishes an apartment building Dec. 9 at the corner of Bartlett and Walnut streets in Lewiston. The building is one of three on property purchased by Community Concepts and planned for redevelopment. Daryn Slover file photo/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — A “transformation plan” for downtown Lewiston, with the potential to reshape the city’s poorest neighborhood and attract new investment, dominated much of the work of city officials and local organizations in 2019.

In 2020, they are hoping to see some results.

The ambitious, 250-page plan, adopted by the City Council in September, looks to bring in a federal grant worth between $10 million and $30 million to redevelop large swaths of the Tree Streets neighborhood. It also lays out beautification projects and a focus on safety, health and education.

Misty Parker, economic development specialist for Lewiston, said city employees and others are working to prepare the application.

“Much of the deliberating and writing will happen January through April,” Parker said. “We hope to complete our application this spring with intention to apply this summer.”

The timeline will depend on when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development releases the parameters of the grant, but city officials promise they will be ready.

At the same time, the city’s partners — Community Concepts, Lewiston Housing and Healthy Neighborhoods — are also gearing up.

As the plan was rolled out in June, L-A Community Housing, a subsidiary of Community Concepts, announced it had purchased several properties that will become redevelopment sites, including along Bartlett and Walnut streets and the former Sun Journal building on the corner of Park and Pine streets.

L-A Community Housing has essentially served as a holding entity for the properties, with Lewiston Housing planned to take the lead on the replacement housing.

Parker said Lewiston Housing is currently seeking a developer to work with on designing and building the replacement sites, which include a 66-unit, mixed-use development on Pine Street, along Kennedy Park, and a 64-unit, family-oriented redevelopment along Pine and Bartlett streets.

In early December, crews began demolishing three buildings along Bartlett and Walnut streets.

Shawn Yardley, CEO of Community Concepts, said the demolitions are now complete, with more work planned for this spring to reseed the lots.

He said with the dangerous buildings now gone, there is “almost a complete block ready for development.”

“Hopefully, that makes people excited about what the possibilities are,” he said.

As for the former Sun Journal building, he said there is no planned activity until project leaders get a developer on board and secure the needed grant funds.

Parker said the city will also take the lead for neighborhood improvements, with Healthy Neighborhoods working with staff to identify improvements with the most impact to incorporate into the grant application.

“Our goal is to ensure we can make strategic investments in the neighborhood that will significantly advance the goals of the transformation plan as well as attract additional investment from the private sector,” Parker said.

In October, some of the initial grant money was used to hang decorative lights in Kennedy Park. The lights are intended to make the park more welcoming at night.

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