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February 13, 2019

Boothbay region's chamber plans a visitor center for Route 1 in Edgecomb

Courtesy / Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce
Courtesy / Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce
This small retail center on Route 1 in Edgecomb is viewed as an ideal spot for the new Midcoast Gateway Visitor Information Center to leverage a high-traffic corridor.

The Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce plans to open a visitor information center on one of the most heavily traveled stretches of U.S. Route 1, in Edgecomb, across the Sheepscot River from Wiscasset and Red's Eats.

The Midcoast Gateway Visitor Information Center will take up about a third of a 3,435-square-foot former retail space, located at 25 U.S. Route 1 in Edgecomb. The rest will be fitted out with a market and café.

Scott Larson, president of Water's Edge Development LLC, which bought the property in October and will lease the space to the chamber, told Mainebiz via email that his company owns the adjacent event center, condos and the rental program for the nearby Sheepscot Harbour Village Resort. A tenant for the market/café has not been signed, he said.

The site includes the building, which is set up as three separate spaces, plus 12 acres. The building has been used for many purposes over the years, including a bagel store, martial arts training space, virtual reality golf space and hair salon, he said. At the time of purchase, the only occupied space was a marijuana dispensary.

There were two reasons to buy the property, Larson said.

"First, we didn't want a medical marijuana dispensary adjacent to a family resort," he said. "Second, we wanted a food outlet on this side of the Wiscasset bridge to serve the retail needs of the resort guests and the surrounding Edgecomb community."

He added, "When we entered into discussions with the Boothbay Harbor Chamber of Commerce surrounding the establishment of a Midcoast Visitor Information Center, that location became a no-brainer. Great visibility and plenty of parking."

Patricia Inness Royall, the chamber's executive director, told Mainebiz that, about 10 years ago, the chamber had a visitor information center at intersection of Route 27 and Route 1.

"It wasn't that successful," she said. "I believe it was the location. You couldn't get to it heading south. When you were heading north, you were on a ramp that took you right toward Boothbay."

Royall said she and Larson had been discussing a visitor center for a couple of years. The new site, she echoed Larson, is "a no-brainer. It sits high on a hill so you can see it as you come over the Wiscasset bridge and as you go south on Route 1. Maine DOT says between 17,000 and 25,000 cars go by per day."

Other visitor information centers in the region, she said, have either closed or lack visibility.

"This is a perfect opportunity for this whole region," she said.

The market/café next door will be a perfect pairing, she added.

The chamber's board of director unanimously approved the project, as did the Edgecomb Planning Board at its Feb. 7 meeting, she said. The chamber holds a one-year lease with an option to renew. LCI Fiber Optic Network in Nobleboro has donated a 55-inch touchscreen to the project, allowing visitors to access interactive map displays.

Next steps, said Larson, involve building renovations, but the degree of renovation hadn't been firmed up yet.

Royall said plans call for the chamber to take occupancy by April 1 and open by May 1 to be ready for the season.

"We'll be offering space there to our members and to non-members," she said.

The chamber's membership is comprised of over 400 business entities and Friends of the Chamber in the communities of Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, East Boothbay, Edgecomb, Monhegan, Newcastle, Southport, Westport, Woolwich and Wiscasset.

The chamber will maintain its headquarters at 192 Townsend Ave. in Boothbay Harbor.

Larson is owner/president of Midcoast Hospitality Group and CEO of Compass Rose Events. Larson and Bruce Harris are partners in Water's Edge Development LLC.

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