|By Andrew Cullen, Sun Journal, Lewiston,
MaineMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Dec. 21, 2011--LEWISTON -- In its final meeting together, the outgoing City Council made one last move to boost downtown redevelopment by approving a cooperative development program that will result in a 90-room hotel being built virtually at the foot of Longley Memorial Bridge.
Councilors unanimously approved a partnership with Parallax Partners Inc. that Lincoln Jeffers, assistant to the city administrator, said has been in discussion for more than a year. Parallax owns the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn and has developed hotels in Portland and New Hampshire.
According to the deal, Parallax will buy properties at 15 and 29 Lincoln St., next to Yvon's Car Wash, from the city for $500,000 and will build a four-story hotel there. The hotel will include meeting space for up to 70 people.
Parallax anticipates a total investment of $9.9 million at the site.
The city in turn will use $425,000 from the sale of the property to build surface parking and public green space at 8 and 34 Water St. That land will be leased to Parallax for $1 a year, with all maintenance responsibilities falling on the developer. The city also plans to lease 15 parking spaces in the Lincoln Street parking garage to the hotel at a cost of $120 per year.
The vote calls for the creation of the Riverfront Island Hotel Tax Increment Financing District, which would allow the developers to receive significant reimbursements on their tax payments for 10 years.
The TIF district makes it easier for Parallax to finance the project, while initially shielding new city tax revenue from the state and county, which would otherwise likely reduce assistance to Lewiston when the tax base increases, Jeffers said during a presentation during the meeting.
The city will get about $10,000 in new tax revenue after reimbursing Parallax during the first few years of the project, Jeffers said. The rate of reimbursement will decline during the period, and by the end of the 10 years the city will receive about $100,000 in new taxes per year. After the TIF period ends, tax revenue from the project will hit $160,000 a year, he said.
City planners have envisioned a hotel at the site, in close proximity to Bates College, hospitals and the riverfront, for 15 years, Jeffers said. The city and developers expect the project to add momentum to the city's slowly recovering downtown economy and to expand the customer base for existing restaurants and retailers in the area. The hotel will provide 20 new jobs, according to the proposal.
"We've been working on the project for quite some time," Parallax President Chris Thompson said at the meeting. "We're very excited."
Construction of the hotel could begin as early as spring, Jeffers said.
(c)2011 the Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)
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