'Innovation' phase of The Downs moves forward in Scarborough

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SCARBOROUGH — The Planning Board gave The Downs developers the go-ahead Monday to present finalized plans for an area of light industrial, technology, manufacturing and retail development.

The board approved a preliminary site plan for the project April 8 by a narrow 3-2 vote. The so-called Innovation District would include three commercial sites, up to 54 subdivided lots, and nearly 55 acres of open space in the northern corner of the Scarborough Downs property.

“Our team has worked very hard to ensure that the Innovation District stimulates economic growth and job creation in a manner that the town desires. As we’ve always said, we want to do this right and we mean it,” Rocco Risbara III, Crossroads Holdings principal, said in a press release about the project’s progress.

Project Manager Dan Bacon if Gorrill Palmer Planning, who is helping Crossroads Holdings with the planning and permitting process, said final subdivision approval is expected in July.

Before that happens, however, permits from the Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Department of Environmental Protection must be in hand.

“We have some other state and federal permits we are working on. The trick for a project this size is to make sure things sync up,” Bacon said.

While Planning Board Chairman Nick McGee, member Roger Beeley and first alternate Rick DuPerre voted in favor, Vice Chairman Rachel Hendrickson and member Jennifer Ladd said they could not support the proposal at this time, in part due to traffic management concerns.

Hendrickson said it would be difficult for her to vote for the project because there were some elements missing, such as a traffic study. She was also concerned about the amount of pavement on the commercial lots near Payne Road and pedestrian and traffic flow through the property.

“I think there are still a lot of questions that I would have,” she said.

Bacon said the board’s concerns will be addressed before final subdivision review.

The Downs team will be holding a traffic movement permit scoping session next week with city staff, the MDOT and the city’s peer traffic engineer, he said.

A good next step might be to have a meeting with the Planning Board about the traffic data and access points, Bacon said. That meeting could occur sometime in May or June.

“Given the size and complexity of the project, there are some details that need to be worked out leading up for final plan submission, but staff is comfortable with the overall layout and approach to the project so far,” Assistant Town Planner Jamel Torres said Monday.

According to The Downs, “the Boulos Co. is accepting reservations on the 57 ready-to-build lots within the Innovation District. They will become available in July of 2019 once they’re fully permitted.”

Bacon said The Downs development team is beginning to look at future phases in the center of the property.

Construction of the first phase of the project, a residential component on the Route 1 side of the property, has started. This phase includes 30 single-family homes, 16 duplex cottages, 32 condominiums and 48 apartments. Scarborough Downs Road is inaccessible from Route 1 while work there is underway.

The Downs reports more than half of the units have been sold or are already under contract. 

Michael Kelley can be reached at 780-9106 or mkelley@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mkelleynews.

The Innovation District section of The Downs in Scarborough will house three commerical lots, up to 54 subdivided parcels for technology, manufacturing and light industrial use, and 55 acres of open space.

The Scarborough Planning Board gave preliminary subdivision approval Monday for the Innovation District, a proposed manufacturing, industrial, commercial and technology area on the Payne Road side of the Scarborough Downs site.

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