A rendering of the planned Windham restaurant/brewery, which includes outdoor seating on Main Street and a back deck. The site sits on the banks of the Presumpscot River just across the bridge from Little Falls in Gorham. Contributed / Great Falls Construction

WINDHAM — Plans to break ground on a new restaurant and brewery at the former South Windham Fire Station at 8 Main St. are in place, according to town officials.

The repurposing of the old station into a restaurant is part of the town’s revitalization efforts for South Windham Village.

Voters approved selling the old station last July and the Town Council approved its sale for $125,000 to Great Falls Construction of Gorham in December.

The Windham Town Council in December approved the $125,000 sale of the old fire station at 8 Main St. to Great Falls Construction of Gorham. The South Windham Fire Station moved to its current location at 33 Main St. in late 2015. Emily Bader / Lakes Region Weekly

The project is part of three pending community block grant applications. The funding from the grants would go toward a new master plan for Little Falls-South Windham Village in collaboration with Gorham; $225,000 for the restaurant’s construction, in exchange for which the property manager will guarantee 15 full-time equivalent jobs; and for construction of public parking and new sidewalks on Main and Depot streets.

“All of this is in a drive to essentially revitalize, reinvigorate the village with people, with businesses,” said Tom Bartell, director of the Windham Economic Development Corporation.

He said that when the town put out the request for bids on the old fire station, they had a restaurant in mind.

“That seemed to be like the catalyst for a lot of different developments areas,” Bartell said in an interview this week. Restaurants “bring in people, not only local people in the village, but also people from outside who would be attracted to the restaurant,” he said.

Since the historic Sawyer’s Variety Store on Gray Road in Little Falls closed in 2016, the once-lively area has remained primarily residential with little commercial activity.

Planning Director Amanda Lessard said her department has been in talks with Gorham for about a year to update the 1998 master plan for the area. If the planning grant is approved, the towns would use the funding to hire a consultant.

For each job that the restaurant project creates, Cumberland County provides $15,000 in funding, Bartell said, which would go toward purchasing equipment for the brewery.

“What we’re trying to do is allow for that operator of the restaurant to be able to get into that building and operate from a lower-level cost from the beginning,” Bartell said. If that grant is approved, JCS Property Management, which will manage the property, is required to provide 15 full-time equivalent jobs at the restaurant.

Applications for those jobs are conducted through a process that would ensure they go to low- to moderate-income people. Bartell said there is no requirement that those applicants be from Windham, but would expect that they’d be from the area.

The council approved an addendum to the sale of the fire station this month to allow Great Falls to begin construction before the sale is finalized and/or the grant is approved, which can be a lengthy process that Bartell expects will go into the spring.

Cindy Smith, who co-owns Great Falls Construction with her husband, Jonathon Smith, said earlier this month that they’re looking to create “an anchor” for the area.

“It’ll bring people there, it’ll be a destiny for people to go,” she said. The old fire station sits on the banks of the Presumpscot River just across the bridge from Little Falls in Gorham.

Smith said that from start to finish, she expects the project will take about a year to complete. She declined to share the budget for the project.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.