Falmouth receives bids for Route 1 development

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FALMOUTH — The bids are in for development of 11 acres of state-owned land along Route 1.

The land, which became available as a result of a partnership between the Maine Department of Transportation and the town, is at the eastern end of the Maine Turnpike Falmouth Spur. The MDOT will give the land to a developer selected by the town and, in exchange, the developer will have to remove the turnpike overpass and ramps, and create an at-grade intersection.

A request for proposals was issued in late January.

Monday was the deadline for developers to submit proposals for the project. On Tuesday, Town Manager Nathan Poore said councilors have started to review the bids.

Poore said he couldn’t disclose how many proposals the town received, because disclosing any information about the proposals at this point would put the town at a disadvantage.

In previous discussions, town councilors said they wanted to vet the developers in executive sessions so the town would have more leverage during negotiations. This was the same process the council followed in the sale of former town schools on Lunt Road to the OceanView retirement community. That property sold in 2013 for $3.25 million.

“I’m generally encouraged by the information we have received to date,” Poore said.

Poore said councilors will likely have one more executive session about the project. He said the council “wants to get this out of executive session as soon as possible and get it into the transparent public phase.”

A public presentation on the proposals is tentatively scheduled for the May 9 council meeting. He said there is also the possibility for another public input session on May 23.

The partnership was first announced in early January, and was later unanimously approved by the Town Council. As far back as 2009, the town held a series of public forums about commercial vacancies and available land, including the still-empty former Shaw’s supermarket at the Falmouth Shopping Center. The town ultimately approached MDOT about the partnership.

The work will have to be approved by the MDOT. It will save MDOT the cost of maintaining and/or rebuilding the spur, and the town will maintain the intersection.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Falmouth is reviewing bids from developers for 11 acres of land where the Maine Turnpike Spur intersects U.S. Route 1.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.