Stephen Griswold, a prominent Lewiston-Auburn developer who rehabilitated affordable housing in L-A, co-owned the Maine Red Claws and was working to revitalize Thompson’s Point in Portland, has died.
Griswold, 64, died Sunday. His brother and business partner, Lee Griswold, said Stephen had been sick but declined to say more because the family preferred to keep the details private.
Griswold was raised in Connecticut and attended Bates College in Lewiston. He’d considered becoming a lawyer after graduation, but a job with an urban renewal group changed his path.
He fell in love with development.
“That’s where he really cut his teeth on affordable housing, way back when,” his brother said.
In the mid-1970s, Griswold formed his own company and began developing affordable housing projects in L-A, some of which still stand today, including Centreville Commons in Lewiston and Heritage Court in Auburn. Griswold soon branched out to nursing home, assisted living and office development.
“He was a leader in development at a time when it wasn’t as common as it is today,” said Chip Morrison, who served as Auburn city manager from 1978 to 1987 and is now president of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. “I think he dared to be a little bit different. I think that’s what leaders do.”
Big or small, residential or commercial, his projects had one thing in common: Griswold thought they would be a success.
“He was very intuitive,” Lee Griswold said. “He had the sixth sense to know when a deal was good and when it was not. Or when a partnership was one he wanted to have or one he didn’t.”
One partnership he wanted was with Lee. Griswold encouraged his younger brother, who was acting in New York, to come up to Lewiston-Auburn to give the real estate business a try. Lee eventually agreed.
“He was a wonderful teacher, too,” Lee Griswold said. “Anyone who knew him, I think, admired him for his ability to communicate. He was an intelligent guy. He was also very personable and approachable.”
Over the next three decades, Stephen Griswold would have a hand in developing numerous projects, including the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn. He also turned his business instincts to sports, owning and operating one of NASCAR’s leading Busch East stock car programs and co-owning the Maine Red Claws basketball team.
Most recently, he was working with his stepson, Chris Thompson, to bring a Hampton Inn to Lewiston. The two were also working on a multimillion-dollar development for Thompson’s Point, which Griswold hoped would revitalize that area in Portland.
He had no favorite deal.
“His favorite deal was the one he was working on [at the time],” Lee Griswold said. “You couldn’t help but catch that enthusiasm if you really knew him. Because he’d be happy to tell you about what he was currently doing, and how good this deal was going to be, and who it would benefit. That was his life.”
But while Griswold was a keen businessman, family had his heart above all else.
“He has just a wonderful family with his wife and his kids and countless numbers of grandchildren, all of whom loved their dad and their papa. He’s going to be missed by many,” Lee Griswold said.
Stephen Griswold, who lived in Portland, is survived by his wife, Peg, four children and a number of grandchildren, as well as his brother and a sister, Rosanne Cook.