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Stop & Shop scraps plans for Morrill's Corner project in Portland

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Stop & Shop scraps plans for Morrill's Corner project in Portland

PORTLAND — City officials said Tuesday that Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. has killed a $15 million retail and residential project that has been planned for six years at Morrill's Corner.

The 20-acre property at the corner of Forest and Allen avenues was going to be turned into a Super Stop & Shop supermarket with smaller retail stores and housing. 

The announcement came a day after the Quincy, Mass.-based company said it will close its only Maine store, in Kennebunk, on Oct. 30. That store, which opened in June 2007, employs 140 full- and part-time workers. 

Penny St. Louis Littell, director of the city's Planning and Urban Development Department, said she was informed on Friday, Oct. 2, by Guy Stutz, a Stop & Shop representative, that the Massachusetts company was pulling the plug on the Portland project.

"Stop & Shop said they will not be going forward with the project at this time," Littell said. She said the company cited current economic conditions, which made it difficult to find retail tenants.

The company began preparing the site for construction by demolishing two single-family homes on Allen Avenue, Littell said. The city is working on an agreement to have three other buildings demolished by either the landowner or Stop & Shop, which is leasing the land.

"Having spoken to both parties, I believe we will get cooperation in getting those buildings removed," she said. "We will be monitoring the project site to make sure that it is stable." 

Stop & Shop officials could not immediately be reached on Tuesday.

The company had planned to build a 66,000-square-foot supermarket on what Portland officials consider a blighted piece of property. Also included in the plan were 18 to 24 residential townhouses and more than a dozen apartments that would have been built above smaller retail stores. More than three acres of land would have been given to the city as open space. 

Littell said that if the company decides to pursue the project in the future, it will have to resubmit its plans.

"They'd have to go through the whole site plan review process again," she said. 

When it was first presented in 2003, the plan faced stiff opposition from residents and city planners concerned about dramatic traffic increases at the already busy intersection.  

According to its Web site, Stop & Shop operates about 375 stores in New England, New York and New Jersey.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net