2016-05-06 / Front Page

Future of Haigis Parkway pondered

By Michael Kelley
Staff Writer


Sometime this spring, the town council will meet with the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation to discuss the potential and challenges for development on Haigis Parkway, a connector between Payne Road and Route 1 that was envisioned as the site of another commercial center in town. (Michael Kelley photo) Sometime this spring, the town council will meet with the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation to discuss the potential and challenges for development on Haigis Parkway, a connector between Payne Road and Route 1 that was envisioned as the site of another commercial center in town. (Michael Kelley photo) Haigis Parkway, a 1.4-mile road that connects Payne Road and the Maine Turnpike with Route 1, was created 20 years ago with the vision of becoming a robust commercial center of Scarborough.

Development, however, has been slow to materialize. Outside of Horizon Solutions, a electrical and industrial product supplier, and the Salt Pump climbing gym, the parkway has sat largely undeveloped. A number of projects have been proposed, including Gateway Square, a large commercial office park on the corner of the Parkway and Payne Road, but were never constructed.

The Gateway Square property was recently sold and Scarborough Economic Development Director Karen Martin is working with the new property owner to come up with a plan. She said the campus-style office complexes are not being build today at the same rate they were in the early 2000s.

“It is a key piece of property. It’s always been a key piece of property. It sets the tone for the development of the parkway and potential for the rest of the area,” Martin told the Leader last week.

According to the town’s zoning ordinance, much of Haigis Parkway sits in the Haigis Parkway Zone, which is designed “to be one of the gateways into Scarborough” and include “office parks, hotels, small scaled retail, convention centers, places of cultural and civic assembly, high technology and research, and multi-family housing.”

The 2006 Comprehensive Plan, which is slatted for an update over the next few years, indicated demand for Haigis Parkway would primarily come from Maine businesses and “development will occur over a 20-year period resulting in a total of 1.1 million square feet of building space and employing 2,600 people.”

Town Planner Dan Bacon said the parkway was envisioned as a business park with different office complexes lining the road, but that vision never materialized. Over the years, in an effort to diversify what may end up on the parkway, the town council broadened what sort of businesses can operate along Haigis Parkway by passing zoning ordinance amendments to allow industrial uses, medical uses and multi-family dwellings if part of a larger development. Last year, the council voted to permit food processors and small batch processing facilities in the parkway zone

“Over the last five years at least, the town has taken a look at zoning and has made incremental changes to respond to the current market and potential developer interest,” Bacon said.

Town Council finance committee chairman Shawn Babine said last month he would like to have a larger discussion about the parkway and have a joint workshop with officials from the Scarborough Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) and town councilors to talk about how the town can encourage development in that highly traveled stretch of road.

“It’s been about 15 years since we really went down that path,” he told Martin during an April 20 finance committee review of SEDCO’s budget. “There hasn’t been a lot of development, in fact very little. I’d love to understand what the challenges are as well as what the potential is and what we can do as a council as a whole.”

Babine suggested it may be time to relabel, or rebrand Haigis Parkway.

Town Council Chairman Bill Donovan said the council’s workshop schedule is full through May, but there may be a possibility to have the sitdown with SEDCO in June or July.

“I would certainly be open to having a roundtable discussion with SEDCO director Karen Martin about anything we can do to help,” Donovan said.

Bacon has also been in touch with Martin and SEDCO about Haigis Parkway. SEDCO was formed in the 1980s to attract business development to Scarborough and work with businesses looking to move, relocate, or expand into town.

“I have talked to Karen about doing another audit of the Haigis Parkway. It sounds like it is on the council’s mind as well. At this point we don’t have a set framework,” Bacon said.

The future of Haigis Parkway is a topic SEDCO’s board of directors will take later this month during their board meeting May 19.

“The board has asked those very same questions and we’ve targeted our May board meeting to really dig in (on that). Dan Bacon will be coming to our meeting in May,” Martin said at the April 20 meeting. “We really want to come up with what is it we are going to do in the short term and what’s the long-term vision.

The long-term vision, she said, may be impacted with the direction the upcoming Comprehensive Plan update takes.

“The time has come to really take some, perhaps, different actions,” Martin told finance committee members.

The parkway, Martin said, has been slow to develop for a number of reasons, including logistical challenges, building around nearby wetlands, changes in market demands, as well as the recession of 2008.

“We’ve been tinkering around the edges the last three or four years and now it really is time to think of what we were thinking back in 2006 and the reality of today, what people are looking for, the future of development and how that matches up,” Martin said.

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

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