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April 18, 2018

Falmouth seeks private partnerships in Route 1 development

The town of Falmouth is hosting a forum to increase awareness within the Greater Portland development community about commercial redevelopment possibilities within its Route 1 corridor.

Theo Holtwijk, Falmouth's director of long-range planning and economic development, told The Forecaster that the goal of an upcoming developers forum is to "do some matchmaking between those who have ideas and those who have properties to develop" toward the town's overall vision for Route 1 as a walkable, attractive business district. The forum is sponsored by the town and GrowSmart Maine and scheduled for April 24.

According to a Falmouth news release, in 2015, the town completed a $12 million infrastructure investment in the Route 1 commercial area and adopted new village style zoning rules. The objectives of the work were to transform the Route 1 corridor from an automobile-based suburban service center to a pedestrian-friendly, pedestrian-scaled New England village center.

"The town envisions a dense pattern of development in the Route 1 area with activities day and night, a variety of uses (including residential uses), and an emphasis on a safe and attractive pedestrian environment," the release says. "To achieve this objective, building height was increased to 65 feet, front setbacks to Route 1 and internal roadways were changed to between 0 and 20 feet with parking to be placed in rear and to the side of buildings, and new drive-throughs for restaurants were prohibited."

The town has discussed redevelopment opportunities with numerous property owners. To date, two properties have been developed that include a new restaurant and hockey arena.

Last July, Holtwijk told Mainebiz that smart-growth principles have been instrumental in identifying and leveraging growth areas while enhancing surrounding residential areas. New zoning rules allow for more infill development on lots that would previously have been unbuildable, thus utilizing existing utilities without impacting neighborhoods.

With regard to the Route 1 commercial area, he said, "The thinking is to create, over time, more of a mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented environment."

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