By Joshua Maloni
The historic Frontier House in Lewiston is officially on the market.
The 191-year-old Center Street building and almost one acre of land was listed last week with Bruce Andrews and Great Lakes Realty. The asking price: $1,695,000 - almost $1 million more than the GAR Associates appraisal submitted to Town of Lewiston Supervisor Dennis Brochey last month.
In an email to NFP Tuesday, Frontier House business development manager Stacey Sheehan, speaking on behalf of owner Richard Hastings and Hastings Hospitality, once again expressed dissatisfaction with the $750,000 appraisal, and said this new price is more reflective of the property's true worth.
"Even before we consulted others for expert opinions, we knew that appraisal was impractical," Sheehan said. "If you want to measure a landmark property, you should use a suitable measuring stick. (GAR's) appraisal type, applied to this property, was as good as using a thermometer to measure how loud something is. Value should have been established by comparing the Frontier House to other historic landmark properties across America, not by comparing it to a mini-plaza or car wash in the Village of Lewiston.
"Where I acknowledge it is a difficult task to establish value on a property like this, I think the scope of this GAR evaluation really fell short. Bruce Andrews, a local agent at Great Lakes, has assisted in establishing a more realistic sales price. On his recommendation, it's been listed at its current price, which Mr. Andrews believes is a fair reflection of the value in a one-of-a-kind, unique, nationally recognized property."
In late March, Brochey asked for the Town Board's consent to hire an appraiser to assess the 10-years-dormant building, which formerly housed a McDonald's Restaurant. He sought to use Greenway funding to purchase the building from Hastings, and then acquire grant money to refurbish it and reopen it to the public.
GAR was hired and, about one month later, Brochey received the appraisal report, of which he said, "(The Frontier House) is probably worth more than the assessed value. How much more I couldn't say."
The Frontier House was not discussed at subsequent Town Board meetings, and Brochey has not spoken with Hastings since receiving the assessment. On Tuesday, the supervisor said the issue is all but dead, as the appraisal number and listing figure are far apart. He added, however, "If (the Hastings family is) interested, I'll sit and chat. If they're not interested, I'm not going to push it. ... My door's always open."
Brochey said the town was in the best position to find repair grants.
He was not optimistic a private buyer would emerge. If one does, "An individual coming in and buying it - even for the assessed value ... is going to have to look at possibly putting a million into it or more to restore it," Brochey said.
He referenced Youngtown's Ontario House, aka "The Stone Jug," which was built in 1842 and recently sold for considerably less than both Frontier House valuations.
"A similar building sold for $350,000 in Youngstown and ... that's got an established business in it and everything right now," Brochey said of the bar/restaurant.
Apple Granny Restaurant, another Center Street business in Lewiston, recently sold for a reported $1.2 million.
Brochey said he's still receiving emails from residents asking for help in saving the building.
Attempts to contact Andrews have been unsuccessful.
The Frontier House, at 460 Center St., in Lewiston.