Developer Jon Smith of Great Falls Construction, Inc., left, and engineer Owens McCullough of Sebago Technics display plans for a five-story, mixed-use building at 7 Railroad Avenue Monday at a Gorham Planning Board meeting. The project received final approval with construction to start this spring.

GORHAM — A village high rise to be built this spring has one final hurdle to clear.

The five-story, mixed use project at 7 Railroad Avenue, approved unanimously by Gorham Planning Board Monday, still requires a traffic movement permit from the Maine Department of Transportation.

“We’re excited to get moving,” developer Jon Smith, president of the Gorham-based Great Falls Construction, Inc., said after Monday’s meeting. “Looking for a start in the spring.”

The project’s process began with a town Planning Board workshop in July. The town’s final approval was postponed last month pending further review.

The building modeled on a railroad theme is near the former tracks of the Portland and Rochester railroad line that once served Gorham. In keeping with the railroad theme, the design includes a 53-foot clock tower.

The mixed use building will house a bowling alley, restaurant, office suites, retail space, a fifth-floor cocktail or wine-tasting facility, and 40 studio-, one- and two-bedroom apartments.

The high rise will provide 153 parking spots, according to Town Council approval of the contract zone.

It is within walking distance of downtown restaurants, stores, banks, post office and shops. Tom Ellsworth, director of the Gorham Economic Development Corp., Tuesday pointed to the tax revenue to broaden the town’s tax base and employment opportunities the project would generate.

Ellsworth said the project would bolster other village businesses. “It will lift a number of businesses,” Ellsworth said. “Its a great project. I’m very, very pleased.”

The Town Council last month granted a contract zone to allow construction, and height was an issue. The tallest part of the structure is 73 feet and it exceeds the 35-foot high restriction in the town’s urban commercial zoning district.

The building will have a 24,761-square-foot print on the 2.93-acre lot. All utilities will be underground.

It is located near Hannaford, Village Elementary School and a residential neighborhood on Elm, Robie and Lincoln streets. Traffic and speeding through the area was a concern of some near-by neighbors.

Edward Zelmanow, Planning Board chairman, said there are pre-existing traffic issues. Zelmanow said there would be some traffic increases, but the developer had no ability to control speeding.

“This development is becoming part of the neighborhood,” with rights to use roads, Zelmanow said.

Town Planner Tom Poirier said the project needs a traffic movement permit from the state before the town would issue occupancy permits.

The high-rise meets 23 conditions of approval that requires installation of sidewalks compliant with the American Disabilities Act. The town is prohibiting removal of vegetation along a nearby brook except for dead, diseased or dying trees, shrubs and plants.

But, the project’s engineer, Owens McCullough of Sebago Technics, requested permission to deal with bamboo in the area.

Scott Herrick, Planning Board vice chairman, made the motion to approve the high rise and Planning Board member James Anderson seconded the motion before a 6-0 vote.

Smith first introduced the project to the town last March. But, Zelmanow said it officially went to the Planning Board on Oct. 3.

“We appreciate everyone’s hard work on this,” McCullough said in the meeting.

A former lumber yard building on the site will be razed before construction begins.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 854-2577 or [email protected]

The mixed-use building planned at 7 Railroad Avenue, approved by the Gorham Planning Board Monday, includes a 53-foot clock tower.


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