2016-12-30 / Community

Officials mull Haigis Parkway complex

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer

For 20 years town leaders have been waiting for their vision for Haigis Parkway to develop and despite pouring time, money and resources into it, the market for the roadway has never materialized as hoped.

A new proposal for a large luxury multifamily complex at the corner of Payne Road and Haigis Parkway just may be the catalyst needed to spur development.

Ben Devine, of Devine Capital, the group that, along with KGI Properties, is proposing the development, said what the group has in mind “fits well with the vision.”

The plan, as it exists now, is to construct 288 units (30 studio apartments, 69 one-bedroom units, 150 two-bedroom units and 39 three-bedroom units) on land that was, years ago, going to be home of Gateway Square, a large-scale office and hotel complex and companion to the nearby Gateway Shoppes. In more recent years, a number of retailers and business, including Fairchild National Semiconductor and TD Bank, looked at the site, but ultimately passed on it.

Glenn Grant, the owner of the property, said “after dragging our feet looking for the best potential for this land,” the time is right for development.

“You have a shovel ready piece of property that has been waiting too long,” he said, adding he rejected development offers from firms in Philadelphia and New York to go with Devine Capital and KGI Properties, which teamed up years ago to develop Gallery Boulevard, another large commercial development between Payne Road and Mussey Road.

Devine said the development, called The Residence at Gateway Commons, is going to “appeal” to a demographic that is choosing to rent rather than buy. The proposal is almost identical to one the development team recently built in East Lyme, Connecticut.

Brad Wainman, of The Simon Konnover Company – the group that will construct and manage the facility – said this sort of development proposed is for “lifestyle renters” looking for robust amenities on site. The units will go for between $1,400 and $2,200 a month and the property will include a pool, fire pits, gym, clubhouse and other amenities.

“They are choosing to live in this style of housing rather than buy,” he said, adding to supply the type of aforementioned amenities package, they will need to build at least 250 units.

In order to make the project happen, Devine Capital and KGI Properties would first need a contract zone amendment approval from the town council and site plan approval from the planning board. Town Planner Dan Bacon said he expects the planning board to begin site plan review in late January or early February, which means it could be back to the council for final contract zone amendment approval by late February or early March at the earliest.

A contract zone amendment is needed due to the size of the proposal – typically only 125 units would be possible – and because the Haigis Parkway zone allows residential use, but only if it is part of a mixed use development that is at least 60 percent dedicated to com- mercial use.

The council approved the contract zone amendment at first reading 6-1, but still have a series of questions and concerns about the proposal.

Councilors, including Will Rowan, said one thing they would like to see included in the project is affordable housing. Rowan said he didn’t see it as inappropriate to ask for affordable housing element given the density waiver and lack of commercial on the site.

The request came as no surprise to Devine.

“We are aware that as part of this process affordable housing will be discussed,” he said.

Devine said he doesn’t “the project is designed for (affordable housing)” but developers would be open to paying a fee in lieu of constructing affordable housing units.

There was also concern about what sort of impact the project may have on school and municipal services.

Will Conway, an engineer with Sebago Technics work- ing on the project, said “the project will have a very limited impact on town services” because the internal road maintenance and trash removal will be done privately. The impact to the school system is expected to be limited as well. Wainman said the East Lyme development only includes 13 children, the majority of which already lived in town.

Conway said once fully realized, the project could contribute $475,000 to $635,000 in property tax annually and pay the town $1.55 million in traffic, school and sewer fees.

Rick Granara, of KGI Properties, said timing for the project is “critical,” especially if someone proposes a similar project somewhere nearby. If they can get permits by June, he said construction could begin in the second half of 2017 and be completed within two years.

“This is not a hypothetical schedule we are proposing. We just finished it,” Granara said referring to the Connecticut project.

To make the project work, Granara said they would be looking to get 90 growth permits in 2017 and 90 in 2018.

Councilor Peter Hayes was the only councilor to vote against the contract zone amendment at first reference, not because he didn’t like the project but “because of the process and how we got here.” He said he would prefer to stall the process so the council, and public, can get more information on the project. Pace, timing and the public having all the information needed were also concerns to Councilor Katy Foley.

Rowan said there would be plenty of time for public involvement and participation when the topic comes up at future planning board and town council meetings.

“I fully expected the Haigis Parkway needed a boost. We should not miss this opportunity because we need to work hard or faster than we’d like. I prefer a deliberative process. That may not be possible, but we would never make a decision that isn’t in the best interest of the town,” Councilor Bill Donovan said, adding the project is in a wonderful location that will draw people and be successful.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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