Andrew Broaddus, a lead opponent of the city’s plan to develop three downtown parking lots, speaks last week at Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Two proposals for development of three downtown parking lots in Westbrook include space for city offices.

Municipal offices could occupy three floors of a six-story building proposed for one of the Church Street lots by the team of New Ventures, Simons Architects and Avesta Housing of Portland. City employees would park in the new parking garage at the corner of Mechanic Street and William Clarke Drive. Three to five 30-minute parking spaces would be reserved at the new building for visitors with municipal business. The upper floors would be residential.

A proposal from the Westbrook Housing Authority also cited space to be used for city offices.

Those preliminary proposals are among four submitted in response to the city’s request for projects for the three city-owned lots, which now provide free parking. The city’s intention to develop the lots has sparked strong opposition from residents and business owners, led by resident Andrew Broaddus, an attorney who represents the Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church.

Westbrook-Warren Congregational Church parishioner Themia Raymond picks up a sign to take home while at a community meeting last week. Robert Lowell / American Journal

One of the two Church Street lots targeted for development is the primary parking lot for the church, which also hosts community events like the annual Festival of Trees. The third lot is between Bank of America and TD Bank on Main Street.

“These parking lots are vital to businesses,” Broaddus said last week at the second community meeting he has organized at the church.


John O’Hara, a former city councilor, said at the meeting, however, that Westbrook needs housing. It provides “critical mass” and without it businesses do not survive, he said.

“This city has a lot of momentum,” O’Hara said, and it is not time to stop.

Mayor Michael Foley has said the development of the three lots is in accordance with the Downtown Westbrook Revitalization Study Update of January 2007, which advocates for housing downtown, although the parking lots are not listed among potential development sites. The development will help alleviate the city’s housing crunch, he said, and parking will shift to the new four-story garage that will be opening soon with free parking.

In addition to the proposals from New Ventures/Simons Architects/Avesta and the Westbrook Development Corp. (Westbrook Housing), the city received mixed-use proposals from Great Falls Construction of Gorham and Tom Watson & Co. of Portland. Each proposal calls for a variety of residential units, including affordable senior and workforce housing, and some parking. One building proposed for the Main Street lot could be up to seven stories high.

Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley last week defends city plans to develop downtown municipal parking lots with housing. Robert Lowell / American Journal

All proposals are under city review, and Foley said he expects they will be refined by early 2024. Any proposals chosen to move forward will be subject to City Council and Planning Board approval.

At the heavily attended community meeting last week, Foley said he wanted the crowd to know “we’re not trying to harm the church.”

“We want to work with the church,” he said.

In response to an American Journal inquiry this week, Foley said the city, at the church’s behest, met with church leaders in 2021 about the future of their building. Foley said the city could have explored municipal uses for the property along with “whether or not the city would be interested in purchasing the property.” Three brief meetings were held, Foley told the American Journal, but nothing materialized.

Broaddus said this week the church has no intention of “selling anything to anybody.”

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