Workers from Quality Insulation finish up an apartment in The Lofts at 225 Innovation Way on Thursday. The building of one-bedroom and studio apartments is scheduled to open in May. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

SCARBOROUGH — The first apartment project in the business park on the former Scarborough Downs horse-racing property is on track to open soon, with units priced to be affordable to workers who could walk to jobs in the Innovation District of The Downs.

The developers of The Downs, M&R Holdings Inc., are putting the finishing touches on The Lofts at 225 Innovation Way – 22 studio and one-bedroom apartments. The housing units sit above 10,000 square feet of work space that will be shared by up to four small companies.

They’re also across the street from a 115,000-square-foot Idexx manufacturing facility and just down the road from Maine’s first Costco, both of which opened last fall.

The addition of workforce housing appeals to businesses like Zebra Striping, a Scarborough company that has 15 employees and sees expansion opportunities in that area of The Downs.

“We consistently hear from our employees that they’d love to live closer to work, but it is cost-prohibitive (for some people) to live in Scarborough,” Zebra owner Rod Bailey said in a statement. “We have plans to grow our business, and having affordable apartments within walking distance is a huge feature as an employer.”

The loft apartments are the latest of 560 residential units to be completed in The Downs since 2019, the developers said. Most are located in the residential district of the 525-acre development. About 60 companies have set up shop in the Innovation District, or business park, where the new apartments are. An additional 248 housing units are in the pipeline, set to push investment in residential and commercial projects beyond $178.5 million this year.


At full build-out, the developers predict, the mix-use planned community will create 3,000 jobs and $615 million in new taxable development on the former racetrack property that stretches from Route 1 to Payne Road.

“We’re at an inflection point in fulfilling our goals,” said Dan Bacon, development director of The Downs. “This is our first mixed-use building in the Innovation District. It creates the opportunity to walk to work, or to Costco, or to the Allagash Brewing tasting room that’s opening next year.”

The developers are hosting an open house at the loft apartments on Saturday and plan to welcome tenants May 1.

There are 18 studio apartments measuring 325 square feet and four one-bedroom apartments. Monthly rents will start at $1,795 and $2,155, respectively, and include WiFi, electricity, heat and hot water.

The Lofts at 225 Innovation Way on Thursday. The building’s 18 studio and four one-bedroom apartments sit above 10,000 square feet of work space that will be shared by up to four small companies.  Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The developers built the apartments without a subsidy from MaineHousing, Bacon said, but they strived to meet the town’s definition of workforce rental housing, which means overall housing costs cannot exceed 30% of income for people earning between 80% and 120% of area median income.

Based on MaineHousing data, the loft apartments would be affordable to one person earning at least $66,250 annually, or two people earning at least $75,700 annually, although the apartments won’t be income-restricted, he said.


“We’re delivering housing units that are very much workforce housing based on these standards,” said Bacon, who is the former town planner in Scarborough.

Construction of residential units in a business park was allowed under the town-approved zoning agreement for The Downs. Additional housing could be built in the business park in the future, Bacon said, and 45 apartments or condominiums are planned to be built above retail and restaurant space in the development’s town center, which broke ground last fall.

The Downs is one of the largest developments of its kind in the Northeast, born out of a planning strategy to build housing, businesses and recreational opportunities near each other that has grown nationally in the last few decades.

Mark Estes puts up a shelf in a closet inside the ADA compliant apartment at The Lofts at 225 Innovation Way after finishing up work on the unit on Thursday.  Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

“This is a development style that has caught on in the last 20 years,” said Jeff Levine, a planning consultant and former Portland city planner. “For the developer, it spreads the risk around to different uses, but it’s also more complicated.”

The Downs started building the roads that will make up the town center last November. Valued at $130 million, the first phase of town center development will include businesses, boutiques, restaurants, housing, tree-lined sidewalks, walking trails and recreational green space.

Establishing a town center has been a stated community goal since it was added to Scarborough’s comprehensive plan in 2006. It is being developed on land near the former grandstand.

When completed, the town center and the rest of The Downs will link via its trail network to other local trails and to the Oak Hill section of Scarborough, at the busy intersection of routes 1 and 114, which includes the town hall, public safety building, high school, a variety of businesses and a Hannaford shopping plaza.

Closer to Route 1, the developers have built 538 housing units, including 80 single-family homes. But 84% are smaller homes, including apartments, condominiums, senior apartments and a memory care facility, Bacon said.

“We are building a diverse housing mix to make Scarborough more accessible to all demographics,” he said, referencing a 2023 study that found Maine needs to build about 80,000 homes by 2030 to meet current and future needs.

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