2014-01-17 / Front Page

Design snag for climbing facility

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

It is back to the drawing board for Good Rebel Holdings, the group behind bringing a 10,000-square-foot indoor climbing facility to Haigis Parkway.

Taki Miyamoto, a representative of the group, was asked by the Planning Board earlier this month to continue working with staff to come up with a building design that meets the town’s design standards.

Board members felt the current plan of a 40-foot-high and nearly 100-foot-long metallic building with limited windows did not fit in, particularly in that section of town.

“For me it really comes down to the architecture,” said Planning Board member Corey Fellows, adding, “It’s tough in this location, this zone, given the design standards.”

The Design Standards for Scarborough’s Commercial Districts, which was adopted in 2001 and last updated in 2009, states “traditional, high-quality building materials common to northern New England — brick, clapboard, shingles or other similar products — shall be used as the primary siding material.”

Highly reflective materials, such as metal or plastic paneling, shall “not be used on the primary or front facing fa├žade.”

While the board was caught up with making sure the look of the building met design standards, they were able to overlook the fact that due to space constraints on the site, parking for the facility would be in the front and there would be dead-end parking on one side, two elements frowned upon in the design standards.

Assistant Town Planner Jay Chace said the fire department has voiced concerns about being able to turn emergency vehicles around in the driveway as it is designed now.

Fellows told Miyamoto he wasn’t quite ready to approve the project, but it was “moving in the right direction.”

The building would offer several climbing walls, as well as other recreational spaces and places for people to relax. Miyamoto said there are plans to also perhaps use the manmade pond on the site for paddleboarding, fly fishing or ice skating.

Planning Board member John Dupont said he understands the challenges in designing such a facility.

“I understand you can’t put in many windows. I understand the constraints, but I think there is more you can do to make it more palatable,” he said.

What Good Rebel Holdings is envisioning would not have been possible on Haigis Parkway a few years ago. The zoning was changed in 2012 to allow more commercial and industrial uses on the roadway that connects Route 1 to Exit 42 of the Maine Turnpike.

According to the town’s zoning ordinance, the Haigis Parkway District is “intended to be one of the gateways into Scarborough and anticipates high quality uses, such as office parks, hotels, small-scaled retail, convention centers, places of cultural and civic assembly, high technology and research, and multifamily housing as part of a mixed-use development.”

Nick McGee, the board’s first alternate, said he liked the look of the building, but, like his colleagues, didn’t know if it met town code.

“Architecturally, I think you do have a nice design. As Cory said, it is fitting together,” he said. “The question is, does it meet the New England style of design.”

Planning Board member Ron Mazer suggested the building might fit in better in another section of town, perhaps the Industrial Park, where there are already two indoor recreation operations. Miyamoto said his team is committed to developing the climbing center on Haigis Parkway.

Board Chairman Allen Paul, who won’t sign off on the project until it meets fire department approval, said he is not trying to make it difficult for the developers, but rather wants to encourage them to create something that meets design criteria.

“What we are trying to do is make it look less like a warehouse. That’s really what we are trying to do,” Paul said.

Paul said the board looks both short-term and longterm while reviewing proposed projects.

“When we look at a building, what we are trying to do is say, this building is going to be here for a long time and not necessarily for the usage proposed today,” he said. “That is the cause for some of our dilemma.”

To help in that regard, the board suggested possibly breaking up the wall by using different textures, coloring or protrusions.

Miyamoto said the Haigis Parkway is the perfect location for an indoor climbing business and he is willing to work with the town to make it happen.

“We have looked around Scarborough and we want to make sure what we put in Scarborough is not sub-par for the town. In our humble opinion, it is not,” he said.

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