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Community Center, Linda Bean restaurant get Freeport approvals

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Community Center, Linda Bean restaurant get Freeport approvals

FREEPORT — The Project Review Board approved plans for a new restaurant at the corner of Bow and Main streets.

It also OK'd an addition to the Freeport Community Center and an expansion of Petrillo's restaurant on Depot Street.

After tweaking the conceptual designs and taking a site walk, the board voted 5-0 to approve Linda Bean's Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern, a 240-seat restaurant at 88 Main St. Board member Clifford Goodall recused himself from the discussion.

Linda Bean, the granddaughter of L.L. Bean patriarch Leon Leonwood Bean, purchased the former Bath & Body Works building last September. She said the restaurant will celebrate Maine lobster, lobstermen and locally grown products.

"This restaurant is a one-of-a kind place," she said. "It is the perfect destination and made a lot of sense for me since I grew up in Freeport." 

Bean said the restaurant will be about 7,600 square feet and have three levels.

The lower level will have an educational component: there will be a lobster and tidal touch tank, a theater playing movies about Maine lobstermen and an interactive area, she said. The main kitchen, restaurant and bar will be on the first floor and the second floor will be the tavern and another dining area. Customers will also have the option of outdoor seating on the street level and on a second-story deck.

A take-out window will serve Gifford's ice cream, lobster stew and clam chowder, Bean said. The restaurant will feature produce from Pineland Farms and other area businesses, and Bean said she hopes to bring in live music and has ideas for family-style dining.

"There hasn't been anything in the downtown like this so we are doing all we can to think about what people will enjoy and when they want to enjoy it," Bean said.

Customers will be able to park at Village Station or at a remote lot on Depot Street, Bean said.

"I'm just thrilled with the reception we've received," she said. "We want to celebrate the centrality of our location, offer something new and fun and instructive for kids and recognize the lobstermen who sacrifice so much every day they go out on the ocean. The lobster business is important to me and the lobstermen need to be recognized as the last bastion of rugged individualism."

Construction has already started inside the building and Bean said she expects the business to open in the spring.

Project Review Board Chairman David Marstaller said the restaurant will be a "tremendous addition to the core of the downtown."

"It is a vast improvement to what's been there, " he said. "This will change the ambiance of the area and I'm looking forward to the change."

57 Depot St.

The board on Feb. 9 also approved a design review application for alterations and a connection to 57 Depot St. from the existing Freeport Community Center at 53 Depot St.

Board member Erik Anderson reused himself from the discussion because his wife is the president of the FCS.

The building at 57 Depot St. is a Class B historic building from the late 1880s, a Mallet-style house similar to the two that are part of the existing community center. Both the Freeport Historical Society and the Maine State Historic Preservation Office were involved in the application process because of the historical significance of the building.

Although there were concerns that the so-called "deep-energy retrofit" and alterations would negatively affect the historical character of the building, the organizations sought a compromise.

Insulation will be reduced from 4 inches to 2 inches in the walls, the original siding and trim will be repaired and replaced, and the windows will be replaced and matched to those used for the rehab of 53 Depot St. and 55 Depot St.

Bob Lyman, executive director of Freeport Community Services, said the improvements and new space will house offices for the food pantry director and the volunteer coordinator, a private conference room and space for food and furniture storage. He said there will also be an additional loading dock built behind the building for thrift store drop-off and food pantry deliveries.

"We want to be out to bid by late March and under construction by mid-April," Lyman said. "Hopefully, we'll be done by Christmas."

Board member Alan Tracy said the house is an asset to the community and the neighborhood.

"The deep-energy retrofit doesn't affect the appearance of the house," he said. "It is a vast improvement."

In other business, the review board approved an expansion of Petrillo's Italian Cafe at 15 Depot St.

The 15-by-22-foot addition will extend into the parking lot, displacing two parking spots. It will be used for additional seating and dry goods storage. Owner Dominic Petrillo said he hopes the construction will be finished by June.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net