Zoning amendments push Scarborough Downs project forward

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SCARBOROUGH — Amendments that include accommodations for manufacturing and industrial space at Scarborough Downs have been referred to the Planning Board.

The Town Council unanimously approved the action Wednesday, with the exception of Councilor Peter Hayes, who was absent from the meeting. 

Other proposed amendments include an updated boundary line and allowing a convenience store with a gas station. 

Earlier this month, the Planning Board unanimously approved a master plan for the 500-acre Scarborough Downs property that envisions a mixed-use community with housing, retail and green space.

The first phase of development will focus on 57 southern acres that abut Route 1, Enterprise Drive and Sawyer Drive. Proposals in the Phase 1 development include 56 multi-family apartments, 24 condominiums, 24 duplexes, 30 single-family homes and a memory-care facility. 

Ten percent of the residences built on the property must be deemed affordable at 80 percent of the median household income in the greater Portland area, per the town’s standards. 

Dan Bacon, project manager with engineering firm Gorrill Palmer, went before the council Wednesday to lay out the proposals, intended, he said to balance development with business, residential, open space and recreational uses.

He said zoning will help make the project successful, and said the zone, designed for mixed development, has already served the project well, allowing flexibility, while also granting the Planning Board a lot of control. 

Jay Chace, the town’s planning director, said previously the purpose of the district is to foster collaboration between the town and developer.

Bacon described the five amendments as fine-tuning the plan, and said the team has worked with the Long Range Planning Committee to lay out the proposal. 

The property line was found to be inaccurate through surveys and deeds, so the additional space must be updated to be included in the Cross Roads District Zone. 

Bacon said there is good demand and a market for light industrial and research space in the region, and within the town, which would make Scarborough a more attractive place for development and business. Bacon said this use is also in line with the town’s Comprehensive Plan. 

Uses could include food processing, and the sale and repair of heavy equipment, he said. 

Additionally, he said, a gas station and convenience store near Payne Road would be an important service for residents and visitors. 

Property owner Cross Roads Holdings LLC is comprised of developers William, Marco and 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.

The initial phase of the project will likely take about 10 years to complete, and the entire build-out is now estimated at 20-40 years.The property now includes a harness racing track, a grandstand and outlying barns. Scarborough Downs will host races for at least two more years.

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. 

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 housing and could also include an assisted living facility.

There is strong competition in surrounding communities, so the Scarborough Downs property must create a unique environment, he said.

Juliette Laaka can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or at jlaaka@theforecaster.net or on Twitter @JulietteLaaka.

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