The Professional Building, center, at 145 Lisbon St. could be redeveloped into 20 market-rate apartments on the upper floors, with commercial space on the ground and basement levels. The Planning Board is set to take up a review Monday. Developer Jason Hutchins is seeking financing, Lincoln Jeffers, director of economic and community development, said. Sun Journal file photo

LEWISTON — A long-planned redevelopment of the seven-story Professional Building on downtown Lisbon Street could finally be moving forward.

The Planning Board is set to take up a development review Monday for the project that would renovate much of the building at 145 Lisbon St. into 20 market-rate apartments, with commercial space on both the ground floor and basement.

According to Lincoln Jeffers, director of economic and community development, the timeframe for the project is still being determined and the developer, Jason Hutchins, is seeking financing.

But, Jeffers said, “The city is excited to see this redevelopment of an iconic building begin to move forward.”

The 20,000-square-foot building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has changed hands multiple times in recent years, but has maintained many of its original features. Its tall and thin envelope and basement floor built into a hilly area at the corner of Ash Street make it unique in downtown Lewiston.

It opened to the public in 1914 as the Manufacturers National Bank Building. Designed by Hutchins & French of Boston and built by a host of Massachusetts-based contractors, the building featured architecture adapted from Italian Renaissance.

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Among the many interior offerings were wrought-iron staircase railings, mahogany doors and marble throughout, as well as state-of-the-art electrical security systems and bank vault materials.

According to the site plan application from Hutchins, the project “will follow historic guidelines to keep certain historic features in place while bringing the building to today’s building standards.”

The 20 residential units will feature “higher end finishes while keeping the historic charm of the building,” it states.

The project is estimated to cost $5 million.

In 2022, when Hutchins first brought forward a redevelopment proposal, the City Council approved a tax-increment financing district for the building. Part of the reasoning was because the building is considered a “high-rise” structure, it requires additional life safety measures, which at the time were estimated to cost $500,000.

Jeffers said Monday that because the original timeframe for the building to be redeveloped has passed, the TIF will need to be renegotiated.

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“With the scale of the project changing we will need to review the level of TIF assistance needed for the project to be viable,” he said.

The original proposal called for 17 apartments with ground floor commercial space.

In a memo to the council at the time, Jeffers said the building has been “a signature building in the heart of downtown Lewiston for over 100 years.”

In recent years, it’s been used as a relatively low-cost option for small offices, he said, but post-pandemic there’s been considerably less demand for office space. As of 2020, the building featured roughly 70 office suites.

“Mr. Hutchins has a plan to bring this building back into productive use, and to create market-rate housing where there is significant demand for it,” Jeffers said at the time. “Having more people living and spending money in the downtown will add energy, presence, and economic vitality to the community.”

Reached Monday, Mayor Carl Sheline said the Professional Building is “a beautiful piece of downtown architecture and I appreciate the tenacity of the building owner as they work through development hurdles and challenges.”

“We need housing of every type in Lewiston, including market rate,” he said.

According to the site plan application, an interior staircase will be constructed for a second means of egress, and the developer will ask the city to dedicate 20 parking spaces in the Centreville parking garage located behind the building.

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