Marden's gets green light from Scarborough, but expense spells demise of Portland store
SCARBOROUGH — In its second appearance before the Planning Board, Marden's Surplus & Salvage received amended site plan approval on Sept. 21 for the former Wal-Mart building on Payne Road, paving the way for the business to open in time for the holiday season.
The new store, a company official said, is expected to replace the Marden's store on Brighton Avenue in Portland, which will be closed.
"It's a great job – who would have thought we'd have been this far this quick?" board member Jeffrey Thomas said.
Compliments flew Monday night between the board, planning staff and Marden's representatives after board members gave unanimous approval to the redesign.
"It's not a Mercedes, but it's darn close. You did well," board member Susan Auglis said.
And board member John Chamberlain called it a "home run" and a "wonderful design."
Architect Andy Hyland, of Port City Architects, instrumental in designing the Scarborough Gallery, displayed changes to the old facade that pull in design elements from Gallery buildings. Work focused on the main entrance, adding layers of materials, height, a curved roof edge, pilasters, a metal awning, partial brick facade and a top molding that runs the length of the building. In addition, Hyland's design breaks up the long wall with a series of large, raised planters filled with evergreens and mass plantings of perennials.
Requirements for the parking lot, interconnectivity and road improvements were satisfied by Nancy St. Clair, of Sebago Technics.
"Marden's and your team have been completely responsive in what we've asked," board Chairman Allen Paul said. "At the end of the day, it's a very good collaborative effort between the applicant and this town."
When Marden's first looked at moving to Scarborough, the company was unaware of the requirements and conditions the board had placed in 2005 on any future owner of the Wal-Mart property. Initially, Marden's planned only to paint the exterior, according to General Manager Paul LePage. And never in Marden's history had the retailer ever been required to go before a planning board, he said.
But the prominent location was attractive to the company and it chose to pursue the project, hiring Hyland and St. Clair to work on changes.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Hyland said Marden's had indicated to him they were willing to spend "a few hundred thousand dollars. Just for the facade, it is a little over $200,000," he said.
Hyland praised the Planning Board for the way it handled the project.
"Scarborough is serious about aesthetic requirements; they want nicer buildings," he said. "(The Planning Board) really weighed it, judged it correctly; they required just enough and not too much. Scarborough got what Scarborough wanted and Marden's got to be in the Scarborough market."
With the redesign pressure behind them, Marden's must now complete the property purchase before work can begin, Hyland said. As soon as the closing is completed, work will begin and the store will be allowed to open before the facade is completed.
According to LePage, Marden's will initially employ about 150 people, but will taper off to about 120.
Asked if the Marden's in Portland's Pine Tree Shopping Center will remain open, LePage said, "I doubt it."
"To make this work we will have to have all our eggs in one basket," he said. "This is turning out to be significantly more than we had initially thought."
LePage said the Portland store most likely will close after the holidays.
Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or firstname.lastname@example.org.