The latest architect’s rendering of the Vertical Harvest project at Mechanic and Main streets in Westbrook, shown here bordering William Clarke Drive. File photo

Construction on the Vertical Harvest development in downtown Westbrook is now expected to start in April after a months-long delay blamed on rising construction costs.

Developer Greg Day of TDB said the cost increases are related to the price of materials and labor as well as shortages of some materials. He expects the total cost of the project, originally slated at $55 million to go up no more than “a few million” dollars.

The increases are affecting the housing and municipal parking garage parts of the project, he said, not the Vertical Harvest hydroponic farm, he said.

“The farm itself is in good condition, but the rest of the project we are going through problem-solving,” Day said. “We are looking at savings in the design and things, and we are in inflation right now,” he said.

In one cost-cutting effort, TDB is also working with Community Housing of Maine to potentially fund and operate 60 of the planned apartments as affordable housing.

The city, meanwhile, is also looking at ways to lower its costs associated with the garage.


The city will be responsible for $15 million for the garage, but through an agreement with the developer, tax revenue from the project will be used to cover that cost, City Economic Development Director Dan Stevenson said. The developers will pay for the $40 million balance before any rising costs and maintenance of the garage, which will continue to be a municipal lot.

The city hopes any additional costs will still be covered by revenues from the project, according to Mayor Mike Foley, but cost-cutting measures are still being pursued, such as using less expensive construction materials and changing some design aspects.

“We are hoping to generate more than enough revenue to fund that project as well as downtown improvements, so the funding is in place and we have the ability,” Foley said.

The project was initially slated to break ground in October and then January.

“Scheduling on a project of this size is never exact, but we have a stellar team working on this,” Day said.

When work begins, the first step will be digging 50- to 60-foot holes for support beams for the 300,000-square-foot building.

Approved by the Planning Board a year ago, the project to be built between Main Street and William Clarke Drive includes the 70,000-square-foot Vertical Harvest farm, residential and commercial space and the parking garage.

Foley said he is confident the project will remain on track. The city has already been contacted by businesses interested in relocating based on the plan for the hydroponic farm, he said.


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