Town Center Design/ The Downs

SCARBOROUGH — The Downs development team held a town-wide meeting to unveil its vision for the most anticipated portion of the Scarborough development, the town center. They said the town center will be the first and only newly built town center developed within an established community in Maine history. 

The meeting was held on April 12 at Throttle Car Club, at 12 Dynamic Drive. This club is in the industrial area side of The Downs, also known as the innovation district. During the meeting, developers explained the vision and geographical layout; provided a preview of retailers and restaurants interested in coming to The Downs; and outlined how the town center will be constructed without leveraging taxpayer funding. Developers discussed the current status of Scarborough’s community center, municipal growth, affordable and workforce housing and answered questions from participants. Over 70 residents participated in the event in person, and over 50 residents participated online.

According to Dan Bacon, development director at M&R Holdings, “residents were genuinely interested in learning more about the project. Many had questions on traffic, recreational, the timeline for the projects, what businesses will be in the town center and what they can do to get involved. We want to hear people’s ideas and hear what kind of places they would like in The Downs.” 

The proposed town center would be built in the area near the former harness racing track grandstand. Plans call for adding 600 to 650 units that will be mixed apartments, condominiums, units above stores, and commercial spaces, Bacon said. The proposed town center will include a community center, recreation center, restaurants, shopping centers, breweries, skating, grocery store, office buildings with street frontage, yoga studios, medical offices and more. According to Bacon, several businesses are already interested in moving to the town once it is built. 

Many residents have expressed that they are concerned about The Downs bringing more traffic to an already congested area.  Downs developers said they are currently working on a project that aims to comprehensively address the longstanding traffic congestion problems in the area. This $14 million dollar project traffic project would improve 37 major intersections, according to the developers, and would involve a partnership between developers, the town and the state. The Town Council voted 7-0 to approve the partnership and allocate previously collected impact fees. The three-way financial partnership includes $2.8 million from the Town of Scarborough, $3 million from the Maine Department of Transportation’s business partnership initiative and $8.2 million of private investment from The Downs. According to a previous statement made by Roccy Risbara, managing partner at The Downs, there is no local taxpayer funding being used and the project it is fully permitted by MaineDOT and the town. 

“These traffic issues have plagued the area for decades, and now with the town and the state as our partners, we’re pleased to finally get it done without asking taxpayers to foot the bill,” Risbara said.


The Downs developers have been working closely with the town on a GIS map that shows all the improvements that are going to be made and when they will be completed, which can be viewed at 

“The Traffic Improvement Plan takes into account Costco (which is making its way through the Planning Board process) and The Downs at full build out. Traffic improvements in Scarborough have long been needed,” said Diana Nelson, Director of Communications Black Fly Media. “The Downs is the first large-scale development team that has actually been able to holistically address all of them.”

The Downs project is facing challenges because of the town’s Growth Management Ordinance. Under the current GMO, the Downs would only be able to receive up to 43 permits per year. Developers have said that a targeted GMO exemption is necessary for the concentration of housing. They said their vision for a town center requires about 1,000 dwellings withing a five-minute walk to support businesses they hope to bring to the area. Under the current cap, The Downs would have to wait years to secure the number of housing permits to build a modern mixed-used town center. Without the GMO exemption, it would be impossible to start the Town Center, finance the necessary infrastructure, and attract new restaurants and retail stores, developers said. 

The Downs are working with the town to find a middle ground for an exemption to the GMO that would allow them to proceed with planning and building the town center

“We are hoping to start the town center next year if all goes to plan. We have been in conversation with the Town Council, and we are eager to have a follow up meeting,” Bacon said.  

The Downs plans to have more meetings in the next couple of months to discuss progress. They will also be meeting with the Town Council for a follow-up next month. Check out The Downs town center video for a closer look at the proposed town center at 

Comments are not available on this story.