Westbrook, ME

Dr. StrangeHat

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I wish Westbrook would put the submissions online. Do you think this is a full replacement of the building?
Not sure. It could just be the Rent-A-Center building towards the southern part of the property. I plan on watching the Planning Board meeting on the 5th (they're streamed on-line on the city's website) and will report back.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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The plan is not as big of a building as I was hoping for (footprint is 6,500 sq feet, 3-stories tall, so less than 20,000 sq ft in total). They're tearing down the Rent-a-Center towards the rear of the property and replacing it with the building below (Sebago Technics is the engineer, Archetype is the architect).

Apologies for the crappy screen-grab.

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Cosakita18

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New 122 room, 5-story hotel coming to Rock Row as part of the next phase of the development.

 

Dr. StrangeHat

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Relatively sizable development proposed for downtown Westbrook:


Video from last night's city council meeting. The presentation begins around the 38:40 mark:


This could be a major catalyst for downtown Westbrook, though residents are probably going to lose their minds over it because (a) OMG CHANGE!!!! and (b) OMG TRAFFIC!!!! 🤣
 
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Cosakita18

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Parking Parking Parking. There's no such thing as "free" Parking. All of that cost gets pushed into the cost of the housing and commerical tenants.
 

mainejeff

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I like the idea....seems sustainable and a bit cutting edge for this area.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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Some screen grabs from the other night's Planning Board meeting regarding the "big" Vertical Harvest/parking garage/residential development in downtown Westbrook. Potentially transformational development for downtown Westbrook, in general, but "meh" design in my opinion (at least the garage and residential portion). The cladding materials have the potential to look cheap.

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Portlander

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Not bad and an impressive mixed use development for a city the size of Westbrook. Will definitely add some vitality and help businesses on that end of Main Street which is only a half block away.
 

Cosakita18

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Good scale and massing but really not a great design. The residential floors almost look like they're haphazardly sitting on top of the garage. I hope there can be a bit more architectural unity in the final design.

I would also argue that having 420 parking spaces and only 50 residential units directly next to a METRO transit hub is far from the best and highest use for that parcel.

I do like the "vertical farm" aspect though.
 
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markhb

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Did they say how many spots are in that parking lot now?
 

Urban World

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Did they say how many spots are in that parking lot now?
Approved. Get this done. I was in this plaza the other night and it was ... well, not inviting. Driving through this section of the town, the site calls out for an anchor. Someone above said transformational. I think that's right.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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Did they say how many spots are in that parking lot now?
There's around 140 spaces there now. Each of the 54 apartments will only get one dedicated spot on the upper level of the garage, but there's talk of cutting that down and trying to attract more car less folks to those apartments.

Parking will be free. The city will float a bond to pay for construction of the garage, and then they will use a TIF on the whole project to pay the debt service on the bond to build the garage. The property is currently relatively-unimproved city land that bears no property tax value, so the Vertical Harvest building and apartments will generate a big increase in city revenue from the property, and those apartments (which will all be market rate) are not likely to attract families given the location, meaning minimal draw on city and school services. The city will maintain ownership of the land and the garage. The developer and operator of the housing above the garage will pay to operate and maintain the garage, and in return they'll get the air rights above the garage and the ground lease for $1 over a 99-year term. It's a very well-structured deal.
 
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Dr. StrangeHat

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I would also argue that having 420 parking spaces and only 50 residential units directly next to a METRO transit hub is far from the best and highest use for that parcel.
The challenge in Westbrook is that the downtown core is surrounded by some of its poorest neighborhoods. So, those most likely to frequent, support and patronize businesses in the downtown core are not within normal walking distance. You can't just push out those poor neighborhoods. Balance is required to maintain a solid urban economy. We've all seen what gentrification can do in Portland and elsewhere.

So, as unfortunate as it is, a sizable parking structure is desperately needed in downtown Westbrook in order to maintain and grow the downtown core businesses. Parking right now in downtown Westbrook is very hard to come by, especially because street parking is very limited (streets not wide enough, too many curb cuts, too many cross streets, etc.).
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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I took a stab at trying to scale/mass what this will look like coming from Bridge Street to the intersection of Main Street. It's a background building and will relatively tower over the foreground one-story retail buildings. Hopefully this will be the impetus to redevelop the CVS, Family Dollar, Martini Lane and Hub Furniture properties. At one point I heard a rumor that the city was talking with a developer to build a boutique hotel with CVS as a primary ground floor retail tenant, but those rumors have been quiet for well over a year now.

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Dr. StrangeHat

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Updated rendering per the article linked below. They're looking to expand the project a little, though it sounds like the actual footprint of the Vertical Harvest building will shrink some (meaning they're going a little taller I believe). The design of the garage/residential component is still "blah," but the ivy they're hinting at in the renderings may be a saving grace.


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TC_zoid

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Looks cool but adding ivy on the outside and a "green roof" is only a gimmick to help people feel good, that they are helping to save the planet from fossil fuels destruction. If the city really wants to help, offer the best parking spots in the city to electric vehicles, or give property tax discounts for those installing turn key solar systems. On another note, check out the supermarket of the future coming to Boston's Seaport District. Another urban feel good, but of the "we are in the future" one.
https://www.urbx.com/market
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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Looks cool but adding ivy on the outside and a "green roof" is only a gimmick to help people feel good, that they are helping to save the planet from fossil fuels destruction. If the city really wants to help, offer the best parking spots in the city to electric vehicles, or give property tax discounts for those installing turn key solar systems. On another note, check out the supermarket of the future coming to Boston's Seaport District. Another urban feel good, but of the "we are in the future" one.
https://www.urbx.com/market
There are currently solar charging stations where the Vertical Harvest building is going as part of this development. The plan is to move those to the parking garage.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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New proposed 4-story development (1st floor commercial and 3 floors residential) at the corner of Saco Street and William Clarke Drive (old Maine Rubber administrative building, across Saco from Sullivan Tire).

Screen shots from Planning Board workshop:

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Site plan...too much asphalt IMO...

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