SCARBOROUGH — Despite setbacks due to COVID, development at The Downs is moving ahead of projected schedules.

Its 154-acre business innovation district is already sold out and will be home to 50 new businesses.

The Downs 50-acre mixed-use housing development is also well underway. The next phase of the project will be designing the new Scarborough Downtown area within The Downs that would serve the larger community of Scarborough. If Scarborough’s Planning Board approves Crossroads Holdings LLC’s final plans, groundbreaking for Scarborough’s future town center could occur as early as spring of 2022.

On Wednesday, Oct. 20, a virtual/hybrid workshop was held at the Scarborough Town Hall where the Ad-Hoc Downtown Committee presented their final report to the Town Council. The committee consisted of nine residents and representatives from Crossroads. They met twice a month since January to create the report. Using the Crossroads’ master plan for The Downs development project, the committee was tasked to propose a detailed description of what
Scarborough’s new town center should look like.

The sheer scope of this project prompted them to create four separate subcommittees. One subcommittee focused on whether the former horse track’s grandstand pavilion can be preserved and, if so, what its uses could be in the future town center. Another subcommittee reached out to other communities across the U.S. that have also created their own vibrant downtown areas for ideas on what would work in Scarborough.

Committee members Art Dillon, Bryan Shumway, and chair, Travis Kennedy, gave their presentation before the council. According to Travis, all committee members were adamant that this newly created downtown should have a central green space ringed by the retail and residential units. Another important recommendation was to create a future entity that would collaborate with the developers to oversee the management of this center and schedule the public activities to be held

During the follow-up discussion, concerns were brought up about the suggested number and density of the proposed residential and retail units. The committee stated that a certain density was needed to ensure the downtown district’s pedestrian-oriented concept. The concept is such that it would be a 5-to-10-minute walk for most residents to get to work or the retail business located there. The report cited the Town of Freeport’s traffic and parking situation because of the lack of residential units within walking distance of their downtown area. The committee also expressed the developer’s concern that a certain density of residential units would be needed so after-hours businesses such as restaurants could succeed.

Councilor Jean-Marie Caterina wanted to assure the public that no skyscrapers would be built to achieve the developer’s density goal.

Kennedy assured her these buildings would be considered nothing more than “tree-scrapers” if anything.

Town Manager Tom Hall, stated that this report will be an excellent resource for the Scarborough Planning Board when the developers submit their final application for this downtown project.

The committee will disband after this report, but members highly recommended that Scarborough should establish another committee to keep discussions open between Scarborough and developers as this project moves toward fruition.

Anyone wishing to view their report can go to the Scarborough Town Council’s page of the Town of Scarborough’s website.

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