A developer from Topsham is proposing a $21 million mixed-used development at the entrance to the former Navy base in Brunswick, a project envisioned as the gateway for the rapidly growing Brunswick Landing.

Jim Howard, president of Priority Real Estate Group, said Thursday that he will bring his proposal before the Brunswick Planning Board for review July 1.

Howard’s application includes plans for eight new buildings on Admiral Fitch Avenue – the main road into the property – that would include a bank, a restaurant operated by an unidentified national chain, a gas station and convenience store, a veterinary clinic and more than 60,000 square feet of professional and medical office space.

Howard said his project includes no retail space because there is plenty of vacant retail space nearby, in the Merrymeeting Plaza and the Cook’s Corner Mall.

The project, spread over 19 acres, would be clustered around the entrance to the former Brunswick Naval Air Station off Bath Road. Howard said that once it is fully built, the project will create about 150 jobs.

“It’s going to be upscale and it’s going to be nice,” he said. “We want the gateway to be professional looking and to support all the growth that has been occurring at the base.”


Howard, whose company has previously acquired several buildings at Brunswick Landing, including the former Navy Exchange retail store, said the growth on the site that has taken place has been phenomenal.

“It’s a great property because there is easy access to the highway, the infrastructure is already in place, and having an airport really helps,” he said.

Since the naval air station closed officially on May 31, 2011, the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority has attracted more than 50 businesses to the former base and the Topsham Commerce Park, the former site of the Navy commissary in neighboring Topsham. The commissary is now occupied by Wicked Joe Coffee.

Steve Levesque, executive director of the redevelopment authority, said those businesses have created more than 400 jobs for the Brunswick region. Levesque is predicting that number will increase to 750 by the end of this year.

The redevelopment has gone a little faster than everyone thought, Levesque said.

As evidence of that progress, he went to Arlington, Va., this week and presented Navy officials with a check for $3 million – money the authority owed to the Navy for conveying more than 1,000 acres to it after the base closed.


Levesque said the payoff, made 10 years before the loan was due, will save the redevelopment authority about $1 million in interest and bank charges.

Levesque said he believes the growth is being fueled in part by the full-service airport on the property. The airport has two 8,000-foot-long runways and several aircraft hangars. The air traffic control towers that were built by the Navy for millions of dollars just before the base closed are not manned.

The Brunswick Executive Airport expects to handle about 10,000 flights this year, Levesque said. Most of those planes are private jets and general-aviation aircraft.

“Our goal is for it to become the premier business airport in southern Maine,” Levesque said.

The redevelopment effort has attracted a diverse group of businesses, large and small.

This week, Frosty’s Donuts, which was founded in downtown Brunswick, broke ground on a new manufacturing facility at Brunswick Landing.


Village Green Ventures is developing a renewable-energy power plant on four acres at the southern end of the base, near the nine-hole Mere Creek Golf Course, which is managed by Harris Golf. The plant will convert solid waste sludge and restaurant food waste into energy.

Southern Maine Community College, based in South Portland, now operates a midcoast campus at Brunswick Landing.

Other tenants include Kestrel Aircraft Co., Great Island Boat Yard, Tempus Jets, Maine Coastal Flight School, New England Tent and Awning, Molnycke Health Care, the Brunswick Naval Museum and Oxford Networks.

Levesque said TechPlace, Brunswick Landing’s technology accelerator business incubator, is in the development stages.

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