The new owners of the Falmouth Shopping Center on Route 1 in Falmouth are planning an ambitious expansion that would create a massive, multipurpose development with senior housing, dining and entertainment venues, indoor and outdoor recreation, a hotel and other uses.

A master plan for the project, to be renamed Falmouth Center, has been submitted to the town, the owners said in a news release. The proposed center’s recently launched website features a planned area development map that shows:

• 18 new buildings,

• 914 additional parking spaces,

• 150 residential units,

• a 100-bed hotel,

• a 70,000-square-foot fitness center and two soccer fields.

The proposal also includes 60,000 square feet of large retail space, 327,000 square feet of mixed-use space and a four-story complex that would include two levels of parking, a retail/restaurant level and an office/residential level.

All of that would be in addition to the center’s existing 192,000 square feet of retail space and 384 parking spaces.

The map indicates that potential tenants for the mixed-use space include restaurants, a bakery, a public market, farmers market, medical office, veterinary office, bank, recreation, amusement center, and gallery and theater space.

“Falmouth Center will feature sports and fitness facilities, walking trails and a walking promenade, restaurants featuring outside dining, brew pubs, entertainment venues, small retail stores, office and medical space, a pet-friendly atmosphere, a village green, housing for ages 55 and over, hotels and all associated amenities of a first-class mixed-use development,” the release says. “The principals of Falmouth Center, who have lived in Falmouth for more than 20 years and have raised their children and grandchildren in the community, are looking to move forward with this exciting new project in a way that incorporates many of the town’s goals and plans for development around the U.S. Route 1 corridor.”

A representative of the owners declined a request for an interview Friday, instead referring all questions to the Falmouth Center website. No construction timeline has been established for the project, which could not be built without the town’s approval.

PROJECT WOULD REDO I-295 RAMP

As depicted on the map, part of the proposed site expansion would overlap with an existing portion of the Maine Turnpike’s Falmouth Spur ramp system. However, the town of Falmouth entered into an agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation in January 2016 that would allow a developer to reconfigure the road system via an intersection or roundabout to free up that overlapping space for development. In exchange for a private developer agreeing to tear down the ramps and bring the spur intersection to ground level, the DOT would give the 11 acres formerly occupied by the ramp to the developer, according to the agreement.

Town Manager Nathan Poore on Friday said any master plan approved for the new Falmouth Center would have to include the department of transportation. Details of the land swap are yet to be worked out, he said.

In March, Joseph Soley, the patriarch of a Portland real estate empire, and Jonathan Cohen, president of Architectural Doors and Windows in Westbrook, bought Falmouth Shopping Center, according to a mortgage filed with the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds. Cohen also is building a new headquarters for payment-processing company Wex Inc. on waterfront land he bought from Portland for $3.3 million in August 2017.

The strip mall, which has had vacant storefronts for years, sold for $21 million, according to NKF Capital Markets, the firm that orchestrated the sale.

On the mortgage, Soley is listed as the sole member of 122 PTIP LLC and Cohen is named as the manager of 20 Thames Street LLC. The two companies each own half of the property, according to a deed signed on March 23.

The roughly 60-acre parcel in Falmouth includes the strip mall and about 20 acres of undeveloped land. Commercial real estate brokers have called the parcel a “gold mine” prime for redevelopment.

FIT WITH TOWN PLAN COULD BE KEY

Craig Young, a commercial real estate broker and partner at CBRE|The Boulos Co. in Portland, is not involved with the Falmouth Center proposal and doesn’t know the details of the project, but said the uses being proposed seem like a good fit for the area.

“I think an upscale hotel would do very well,” he said. “Senior housing is also doing very well in the area.”

Young said the project is in a great location that is easily accessible from Interstate 295, but he wasn’t sure if a development of that scale is consistent with the town of Falmouth’s comprehensive plan.

“I think it’s an ideal use in an ideal location,” he said. “Now whether the town approves it or not, I don’t know.”

The Town Council will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. Monday to get its first comprehensive look at the proposal.

One of the first tenants is expected to be Seacoast United Sports Club, which operates facilities in Topsham and Brewer.

“Seacoast United is an ideal anchor for what will become Falmouth’s most exciting address,” the company said in a press release. “SUSC operates full-year teams and developmental programs in soccer, baseball, field hockey, softball and lacrosse with facilities throughout New Hampshire, Maine, and northeast Massachusetts.”

To accommodate Seacoast United, the developers will build two outdoor turf fields, as well as an indoor turf field facility, according to the proposed master plan.

In May, a Rhode Island-based retail chain that invested $1.3 million in upgrades at a formerly vacant space in the shopping center said it was fighting an eviction notice it had received from the center’s new owners.

Ocean State Job Lot, which moved last October with Planet Fitness into the faltering Route 1 retail center, said Soley and Cohen claimed the discount retailer’s 10-year lease is invalid because of a technicality in the exchange of documents.

Kate Irish Collins of The Forecaster contributed to this report.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

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