April 12, 2010

Former mall readied
for MaineHealth

By Ann S. Kim akim@mainetoday.com
Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH — Heavy equipment and trucks are rumbling around the former Orion Center on Route 1.

click image to enlarge

Redevelopment continues at the former Orion Center on Route 1 in Scarborough. Maine Health is relocating diagnostic laboratories and back office functions to the old strip mall.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

The property is being renovated for MaineHealth, the nonprofit parent of more than a dozen health care organizations, including Maine Medical Center in Portland.

The 15.7-acre property, once home to retail businesses and light industry, will be renamed the MaineHealth Professional Park.

The administrative offices of Maine Medical Partners, now in South Portland, are expected to move in by the end of this year.

The NorDx diagnostic laboratory is expected to come in the first quarter of next year from Maine Med's nearby Scarborough campus.

NorDx will have room for growth in its new space, and its departure from its current site will allow for expansion of the Maine Medical Center Cancer Institute, said Mark Harris, a MaineHealth spokesman.

Harris said the construction is expected to go on for most of this year. The project is using the existing buildings, which have a total of 92,000 square feet of space. A couple of thousand square feet will be added between the Orion Center's former buildings.

"The facade will change a great deal. It will look more like an office center," Harris said.

The property was a retail center anchored by Mammoth Mart, and later became a center for light industrial businesses. Plans to turn it back into a retail center – anchored by a Stop & Shop supermarket – never came to fruition.

Hannaford Bros. Co. bought the property in 2007 and sold it to MaineHealth the next year.

The vacant space on the town's major artery was a problem for a few years, but the current plan is probably one of the best possible outcomes, said Harvey Rosenfeld, executive director of the Scarborough Economic Development Corp.

"Some taxes and good-paying jobs, and then you hit the jackpot," he said.

About 70 percent of the property's value will be subject to property taxes; the rest will have tax-exempt status, said Paul Lesperance, the town's assessor. It's too early to estimate the property tax revenue that will be generated by the project.


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