An architect’s rendering of a restaurant with office space being built on U.S. Route 1; architect Katherine Detmer said the color will be darker than shown. Courtesy photo

FALMOUTH — A four-story building that will house a restaurant and offices is the newest addition to the Falmouth Shopping Center along U.S. Route 1, a project town officials hope will inspire similar developments.

“It’s great for Falmouth; we’ve been seeking to do more development that’s well designed, high quality and along our commercial district, and we are looking forward to more investments like this in our commercial district,” Economic Development Director Theo Holtwijk said.

The building will be 68 feet high, just shy of 24,000 square feet and located at the corner of Route 1 and Bucknam Road, across from the Irving station and on the last undeveloped parcel in the shopping center. While it’s a smaller version of plans for the area proposed in 2018, developer Jonathan Cohen said the space will be put to good use.

“The town of Falmouth went through a very comprehensive zoning a few years ago. The zoning that came of it, the hope was a building like this would come up,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s original 2018 plans for the Falmouth Center called for a mix-used project that included shopping, residential, commercial and outdoor athletic space, but local opposition and a zoning change that would not allow the outdoor sports field crashed those plans.

However, interest in the office space led Cohen to develop the current project.

Views of a new project soon to be under construction at Falmouth Shopping Center. Architect Katherine Detmer said exterior lighting will look like bars of light running down the sides, giving the building a contemporary look. Courtesy photo

The first floor will house the restaurant and the primary entrance to office spaces, which stretch up through the rest of the building.

Developers did not say at the July 7 Planning Board meeting who is leasing either the restaurant space or the offices, but said previously it could be a single tenant up to several leasees and interest is already heavy.

“Offices with proximity to downtown, you get tied up in a lot of traffic. You don’t get that in Falmouth,” said Steve Baumann, the property leasing agent with Compass Commercial Brokers. “An office that has (parking) in Portland, that parking cost is $7 to $8 per square foot, that’s an added cost, so we are seeing folks look at the suburbs. Part of the problem when you don’t have a building approved, people express interest but we needed approval and we just got it.”

Developers did say the eatery will include a vestibule to allow outdoor seating, which the Town Council just voted to expand for local businesses on Monday.

“That (seating) was always a part of the plan, but with the pandemic, the outdoor seating being a big part of our design worked out,” Archetype Architects architect Katherine Detmer said at the July meeting where the project was approved.

Outdoor dining on Route 1 will add to “liveliness” in the area, which the town hopes will attract more business, Holtwijk said.

Fifty parking spaces have been dedicated for the development, leaving 730 free spaces in the shopping center, according to engineer Steve Bushey of Gorrill Palmer.

Holtwijk said it’s one of the first projects in the area to take advantage of the town’s 65-foot limit on building heights, which was put in place “several years ago.” 

“We have some examples of two-story buildings along Route 1, this is a four- or five-story building, which is a more efficient use of land. This is all something we looked to get to revamp the area when we did that,” he said.

Developers say they are hoping to get to work right away as they wrap up the final details of the planning approvals.

“We hope to be in the ground as soon as we can; we have some steps we have to do, but we are rolling forward,” Cohen said.

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