City believes project could spur downtown revitalization

AUBURN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A proposed mixed-use apartment building on the site of a former funeral home could breathe new life into the city's urban center.

"We're here to announce an exciting development on Spring Street, and something I think that is going to become a steady drumbeat of activity here in downtown Auburn," trumpeted Auburn Mayor Jonathan Labonte.

The project calls for the demolition of the former Dillingham Funeral Home. In its place Anew Development plans to build a four story building with 30 to 35 market rate apartments with a small retail space on the first floor.

"There is a wave of opportunity going on in the market right now," explained Ethan Boxer Macomber, owner of Anew Development.

Boxer Macomber says the combination of a new public transportation terminal that will be constructed just down the street from the site this summer, and the city's plans to invest in a wireless high speed internet initiative for the downtown convinced him this was the place to invest in himself.

"Had the city not been so forward thinking and proactive in their approach, I probably would not be standing here today," he added.

"We really see this little node of Spring and Court Streets as a place where young creative types are going to not only live and work, but recreate and spend time connecting with each other," said Labonte.

He says the city is also working with the Maine Department of Transportation to make changes to the way traffic flows through the center of the city to make the downtown more pedestrian friendly in an effort to boost the livability of Auburn's urban center.

"We are making a concerted effort to reclaim these city streets as places for people, and then trying to sell that to the development community that this is going to be a different market place," he stated.

The project, which is expected to cost between $6 million and $7 million is still in the planning stages. Boxer Macomber says he hopes to have the all the permits in place by the end of the year in an effort to begin construction in the spring of 2015. He says if they are able to meet those goals, they should be welcoming their first tenants home in early 2016.


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