Best Thai Express co-owners Job Hanjitsuwan and Em Limvatanalert plan to open the new restaurant at 216 Bath Road in Brunswick this summer. The couple said they chose the location based on the area’s upcoming development, which they see bringing in a lot of business. Chance Viles / The Forecaster

Cook’s Corner is showing new signs of life as Brunswick combats a decade-long economic slump in the area.

The east Brunswick area, dotted by strip malls of big box stores and small businesses, will soon be home to a Martin’s Point health care facility and the town’s second Hannaford supermarket.

At nearby Brunswick Landing, site of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, the IT company Vivid Cloud is constructing an office building, and a municipal recreation complex is being planned next to the recreation center on Neptune Avenue.

Brunswick Economic Development Director Sally Costello said the town must work to offset “disinvestment” in the Cook’s Corner area that occurred in the last decade since the closure of the Navy base.

A new advisory committee will soon have market and traffic studies of the area and will work on prioritizing the area’s needs, she said. The committee also plans to host a number of meetings with residents for input on how to improve Cook’s Corner.

The Hannaford store, scheduled to open at Cook’s Corner Mall at the end of the summer, already is helping fill empty storefronts.

Best Thai Express is slated to open in mid-July at 216 Bath Road. “We chose this area because of all of the coming developments,” said Job Hanjitsuwan, whose family also owns Best Thai in Damariscotta and Best Thai 2 in Bath. “This is a place we want to be.”

The new Hannaford store nearby will help bring customers to the to-go and casual eat-in restaurant, which was inspired by the increasing take-out sales at the other two Best Thai spots, Hanjitsuwan said.

Costello said business investment in the neighborhood has been in decline for more than a decade, “in part due to the aging infrastructure and outdated commercial strip center offerings.” In addition, redevelopment of the base into Brunswick Landing hasn’t led to as much business activity as hoped.

“In order to support and encourage the sustainable economic development of Cook’s Corner, the town needs to work with the private sector, our residential communities, property owners and institutional stakeholders, to ready the sites for improvement by working through public-private partnerships,” Costello said.

Public investments to stimulate private investment could include traffic calming measures, improved sidewalks in areas that lack accessibility, traffic signals and even the addition of roads to deal with traffic that will come with projects like the 53,000 square foot Martin’s Point facility that is expected to be completed this summer.

Such improvements need Town Council approval. Much of the cost could be covered by tax revenues generated from projects in the area and potentially by state and federal grants, Costello said.

“We want Cook’s Corner to have a sense of place, so we want to take a data-driven approach, and we need both the private sector, residents and the public sector to come together,” Costello said.

Hanjitsuwan sees his family’s business growing along with local development.

“We are excited to get to know the community, and we hope people come in and try our classic Thai food,” he said.

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