Board approves master plan for Scarborough Downs

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SCARBOROUGH — The Planning Board unanimously approved a master plan for the 500-acre Scarborough Downs property on April 5 that envisions a mixed-use community with housing, retail and green space.

The first phase of development will focus on 57 southern acres that abut Route 1, Enterprise Drive and Sawyer Drive.

Proposals in the Phase 1 development include 56 multi-family apartments, 24 condominiums, 24 duplexes, 30 single-family homes and a memory-care facility. 

Property owner Cross Roads Holdings LLC is comprised of developers William, Marco and Rocco Risbara III, of Risbara Bros. Construction Co., and Peter and Richard Michaud, formerly of Michaud Distributors.

The group purchased the property in January for $6.7 million.

The initial phase of the project will likely take about 10 years to complete, and the entire build-out is now estimated at 20-40 years, according to Dan Bacon, a planning project manager with the Gorrill Palmer engineering and planning firm hired by Crossroads Holdings.

The property now includes a harness racing track, a grandstand and outlying barns. Scarborough Downs will host races for at least two more years.

Crossroads Holdings has said it expects to invest more than three times the purchase price, making infrastructure improvements to prepare the land for development.

The northern section, along Payne Road, is eyed for commercial and industrial activity due to its proximity to the Maine Turnpike and other commercial activity along Payne Road, Bacon said.

The central area, where the race track is operating now, is designated for mixed use. The track may be retained or retrofitted and will remain a focal point of the property, Bacon said. 

Bacon said a shopping center and office campus could be constructed in the western portion of the property.

The eastern area, where the stables are located, would be residential and could also include an assisted-living facility.

Bacon said market trends show that nationally, a suburban location with urban amenities is the most desirable development. What is envisioned at Scarborough Downs mimics that ideal, with residents able to walk to work, a coffee shop, or to entertainment. 

There is strong competition in surrounding communities, so the Scarborough Downs property must create a unique environment, he said.

Jay Chace, the town’s planning director, said the purpose of the district is to foster collaboration between the town and developer.

Ten percent of the residences built on the property must be deemed affordable, at 80 percent of the median household income in the greater Portland area, per the town’s standards. 

Risbara has said the project’s focus will likely change over time in line with market forces.

Chace said it is not known when the project will come back to the board, since developers need to do the necessary engineering and studies to complete a site plan and subdivision application.

Zoning amendments requested by developers include an updated boundary line, as well as accommodations for manufacturing and industrial space, a convenience store, fuel station, and restaurant with drive-through. 

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net. 

The Scarborough Planning Board unanimously approved a master plan for Scarborough Downs on April 5 that includes a mixed-use community with housing, retail and green space.

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