SCARBOROUGH — The timeline for completion of a mixed-use community at Scarborough Downs has increased from an initial estimate of 15-30 years to up to 40 years.
A local developer and part of his team met with the Town Council and staff last week to discuss short- and long-term plans for the 500-acre property that now includes a harness racing track, a grandstand and outlying barns.
The entire build-out of the project is now estimated at 20-40 years, said Dan Bacon, a planning project manager with the Gorrill Palmer engineering and planning firm hired by Crossroads Holdings LLC.
Crossroads includes developers William and Marco Risbara, along with their brother, Rocco Risbara III, of Risbara Bros. Construction Co., and Peter and Richard Michaud, formerly of Michaud Distributors. The group purchased the property in January for $6.7 million, and initially estimated the project would take up to 30 years to complete.
A master plan will go before the Planning Board in March or April, Bacon said. The conceptual infrastructure plans have already gone to the board.
Main topics of discussion at the workshop included zoning amendments, and the mixed-use plan for the property, about 200 to 300 acres of which is considered developable.
The first section to be developed will be a residential area on the southern section of the property. The northern section, along Payne Road, is eyed for commercial and industrial activity due to its proximity to the Maine Turnpike and other commercial activity along Payne Road, Bacon said.
The central area, where the race track is operating now, is designated for mixed use. The track may be retained or retrofitted and will remain a focal point of the property, Bacon said.
Scarborough Downs will host harness racing for at least two more years while the new owners solidify their plans for the property. Crossroads Holdings expects to invest more than three times the purchase price, making infrastructure improvements to prepare the land for development, according to the group.
In the short term, a two-year lease will be signed with the Downs’ current owner, Sharon Terry. The arrangement will preserve 60 or more jobs at the track, Risbara said.
Bacon said a shopping center and office campus could be constructed in the western portion of the property.
The eastern area, where the stables are located, would be residential and could also include an assisted living facility.
Bacon said market trends show that nationally, a suburban location with urban amenities is the most desirable development. What is envisioned at Scarborough Downs mimics that ideal, with a person able to live in Scarborough and also walk to work, a coffee shop, or to various entertainment.
There is strong competition in surrounding communities, so the Scarborough Downs property must create a unique environment, he said.
Bacon said the zoning for the project is “90 percent there.” The zone was specifically created for the site to allow for mixed-use, residential and commercial activity.
In the Feb. 8 presentation, Bacon said the vision for the property is a walkable, bikeable area with multi-generational housing, a community center, recreation, and also commercial activity, from coffee shops to manufacturing.
Jay Chase, the town’s planning director, said the purpose of the district is to foster collaboration between the town and developer, although 10 percent of the residences built on the property must be affordable.
Risbara said the project’s focus will likely change over time in line with market forces.
In response to a question from Councilor Katy Foley, Risbara said solar energy is being discussed as an option.
Zoning amendments requested by developers include an updated boundary line, as well as accommodations for manufacturing and industrial space, a convenience store, fuel station, and drive-thru restaurant.
Plans for Scarborough Downs include residential and commercial activity.