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Scarborough design requirements could dash Marden's hopes for former Wal-Mart building

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Scarborough design requirements could dash Marden's hopes for former Wal-Mart building

SCARBOROUGH — Marden's Surplus & Salvage is eyeing the former Wal-Mart building on Payne Road in Scarborough for its newest store, Marden's General Manager Paul LePage said this week.

But the popular Maine retailer may have a tough sell with the Planning Board.

Constructed in 1992 and situated on nearly 22 acres, the building that housed the state's first Wal-Mart store is listed for $7.5 million on walmartrealty.com.

In May, Wal-Mart moved into a new location across the street, in the Scarborough Gallery. At that time, as required by the Planning Board, the old store's sign was removed and its parking lot barricaded.

When the Planning Board first approved Wal-Mart's new building, in June 2005, it stipulated that any reuse or redevelopment of the former building would require new owners to come to the board for site plan review, Assistant Town Planner Jay Chace said Wednesday.

Chace declined to comment on specific design standards the board may impose, because he was not employed by the town at the time the decision was made. Town Planner Dan Bacon, who has been talking with Marden's representatives, is on vacation.

The 119,000-square-foot building would be roughly the size of Marden's Waterville store, which also occupies a former Wal-Mart, LePage said. When asked what the store planned to do to spruce up the Payne Road building's exterior, he said, "We're going to paint it."

"Our plan is to buy the building, paint it, go inside and clean the floors, paint the walls, put out merchandise and open the doors," he said. "If the Planning Board says 'you've got to do all this design,' we're simply going to leave – that's not the business we're in."

As a surplus and salvage business, Marden's never builds new stores and never has a "super-fancy building," LePage said.

"This is the first time we've ever had to go to a planning board in the history of the company," he said. 

The company has hired Nancy St. Clair, of Sebago Technics, to represent it at the Planning Board.  St. Clair did not return phone calls by Thursday morning.

Scarborough Economic Development Corp. President Harvey Rosenfeld said he's not sure whether the deal will come together, given the town's strict design standards.

"We'd be glad to help them, but Scarborough is intent on upgrading its commercial areas," he said. "One reason Scarborough has worked hard on design standards is we want them to meet residents' expectations because we're growing so fast."

LePage said Marden's had been looking for available buildings in the area to house its 15th store, and hopes to be moved in as soon as possible. The company will wait until the end of the year to decide whether to keep its existing Portland store, in the Pine Tree Shopping Center.

"Hopefully, Marden's would be successful," Rosenfeld said. "But there has to be an understanding of long-term planning instead of just filling a building. I don't want Marden's to lose; I just don't want the town to lose. No doubt it would be a gold-mine location."

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.