The Downs, Rock Row developers share projects’ state of play, expected impact
Developers of The Downs in Scarborough and the Rock Row complex in Westbrook shared insights into their projects at a Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce event Wednesday morning, including what they see as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
"We've done many projects over the years, but 525 acres is virtually unheard of for a development project in southern Maine," said Roccy Risbara, president of Risbara Bros., the Scarborough-based construction company he owns with his brothers, William and Marc.
They formed Crossroads Holdings Inc. with another set of local brothers to buy part of the Scarborough Downs property in 2017 and embark on a project Risbara describes as "transformational, innovative and balanced."
Josh Levy, principal of Needham, Mass.-based Waterstone Properties, told a similar tale of scrapping plans for a Walmart Superstore in Westbrook in order to develop 100 acres — including a 26-acre quarry — into "a unique experience set in stone." The property includes a 122-room Element by Westin hotel slated to open in 2022.
Addressing more than 450 people gathered at the Holiday Inn By the Bay, both developers spoke of the projected economic benefit of their projects, as well as the importance of creating what's needed.
"We don't want to build something that nobody wants," said Risbara. That includes offering commercial space that promises to broaden the town's revenue tax base, which is currently 77% residential.
He also said developers focused on a blend of housing in Phase 1, with 10% meeting Scarborough's requirement of providing affordable housing. No one else in town had previously "cracked that nut," he said.
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