Last month, a string of fires in downtown Lewiston claimed 10 apartment buildings and left almost 200 people homeless. Fortunately there were no fatalities and only minor injuries. The community rallied together to help those affected by the fires, but the events also brought to light a problem that has been brewing for decades. Century old buildings that have been allowed to deteriorate to a dangerous level.
A once thriving mill town, Lewiston has had it's ups and downs, but has enjoyed something of a renaissance over the last 10 years with new businesses moving in to the downtown area and renovating the beautiful old structures that have defined the city. The inventory of apartment buildings however, has not enjoyed the same renaissance.
Larry Baril of Lewiston gives a great assessment of the problem and solutions in the video below from our local paper, The Sun Journal and the accompanying article: Downtown Housing Down But Not Out?
In many ways the fires have acted as a wake up call. The city is stepping up it's efforts to tear down buildings that are too far gone. Likewise, investors are realizing the days of simply purchasing a cash flowing building and leaving it at that are gone. They are starting to realize that smart improvements will protect their investment and enable them to increase rents as the quality of buildings improves. The city's continuing focus on bringing new business to the area continues to drive the demand for housing making this an attractive area for investors.