LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With the addition of high-end restaurants and apartments, Somali shops, an organic market and a yoga studio, there's new life on Lewiston's Lisbon Street.
Eric Agren, owner of restaurants Fuel and Marche, and apartments on the street, said the downtown area has transformed in the last decade.
"There were first floors, mostly empty, no businesses, papered up, and pretty empty across all of Lisbon Street," Agren remembered.
When he first proposed the idea of putting in a high-end restaurant on Lisbon Street seven years ago, he said he was met with skepticism.
Following Fuel's success, several businesses have followed.
Seven months ago, Forage Market opened across the street, selling local, organic food.
"There were a lot of great, old buildings downtown that were inexpensive and have a lot of great potential," said Allen Smith, Co-owner of Forage Market.
As many businesses have moved in, there's still room to grow.
Promoting economic development was the topic of a Thursday afternoon forum at the Lewiston Public Library, where Agren shared his success story and vision for Lewiston's future.
"The significant amount of development that's going on all at once, I believe is just the beginning," said Agren.
He said the key is attracting a young, professional demographic to the downtown area, where they can eat, recreate, and live.
That's an effort already in progress, as several buildings on Lisbon Street are currently under construction for new, high-end apartments on second-floors.
This construction comes after the opening of the new Lofts at Bates Mill apartments, which is a combination of low-income and market-rate apartments in the old mill.
Agren says the expansion on Lisbon Street and beyond is a sign that Lewiston's economic downturn could be part of its past.