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Updated: September 11, 2019

Delayed mixed-use Damariscotta development lands Camden National

Courtesy / Camden National Bank A rendering of the Camden National Bank being built at 435 Main St. in Damariscotta. The bank is slated to open in the spring.

Camden National Bank will be the first tenant in Commercial Properties' three-building mixed use development at 435 Main St. in Damariscotta.

Development of the complex, newly named Camden National Plaza, was delayed for several months in 2017 by three-month town moratorium and then last year by a lawsuit from a residents’ group after a referendum on the moratorium failed. The lawsuit was dismissed by the state Superior Court in November.

The project by the Portland development company will include the 2,700-square-foot bank building, a 22,000-square-foot building for two retail spaces and a 5,525-square-foot building with three commercial spaces.

It’s on the business strip of Main Street, U.S. Route 1B, north of the town center, near a Hannaford supermarket.

Commercial Properties CEO Dan Catlin said the buildings will be developed as tenants are signed.

The announcement that Camden National will occupy the 2,700-square-foot free-standing building was made Monday, and the bank said it hopes to open in the spring. The bank is relocating from 4 Coastal Market Drive in Damariscotta.

The building is designed by Gawron Turgeon Architects, of Scarborough, and will include be a “high-tech, high-touch banking center,” according to Camden National.

While the site is a blank slate now — the heavy woods are gone and heavy equipment rumbles over a dirt landscape — the infrastructure is in and ready for buildings.

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Dan Catlin, CEO of Commercial Properties, discusses plans for 435 Main St., Damariscotta, in 2017 at the site. The plans are moving forward, with Camden National Bank as the first tenant.

Integrating medical space

Catlin told Mainebiz Monday that he has some prospective tenants and, “as soon as we get a solid lease, we’ll be in the ground.”

He said many of those interested in the space are medical-related. “We’re getting more inquiries about medical uses,” he said.

That’s true not only of Camden National Plaza. “We’re in the process of integrating a considerable amount of medical space into all of our properties,” he said. “We see a good amount of medical in the retail mix now.”

Those projects include a 12,000-square-foot building on Haigis Parkway in Scarborough and the recently completed renovation of a 5,200-square-foot building on Waterman Drive in South Portland that most recently housed a Wendy’s and Tim Horton's.

American Family Care, a national urgent care and occupational medicine provider, occupies 3,150 square feet of the space, with a Starbucks in the other unit.

It’s American Family Care’s first location in Maine. “We hope to do several other locations with them,” Catlin said.

Commercial Properties is also developing property at 305 Bath Road, in Brunswick, for medical space. The site is near the entrance of Mid-Coast Hospital and would include five buildings — two pad sites of 5,400 square feet and 3,400 square feet, and three three-story medical office buildings with footprints ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet. That plan is still in the permitting process.

Commercial Properties also has 20,000 square feet available on three pad sites in Mechanic Falls at the intersection of routes 11 and 26, on the site of the Hannaford, as well as in Littleton, N.H.

Rendering / Courtesy Knowles Design
Commercial Properties, a Portland development firm, proposed 30,000 square feet of retail and commercial space for an 11-acre site at 435 Main St. in Damariscotta. Residents have been increasingly vocal in opposing new retail development.

'Good things take time'

Catlin said that the Damariscotta project hasn’t changed since it was approved by the planning board in 2017. At the time, some aspects were tweaked to accommodate aesthetic and safety concerns by residents and town officials.

“Good things take time,” Catlin said Monday.

He’d been working with town officials since 2016 on the development when it was caught in a backlash ignited by quick approval and build-out of a Dollar Store and Sherwin Williams on land where a long-vacant motel had been.

A residents’ petition for a moratorium on any development over 2,500 square feet had was approved by selectmen in August 2017. At the time, Catlin’s proposal was the only one before the planning board.

When the moratorium failed to become law in a town referendum, the planning board approved the Commercial Properties development. The residents’ group, Our Damariscotta, filed a suit against the development, which ended up in Superior Court.

Catlin said Monday while the tussle was a setback, it wasn’t insurmountable. “Development projects take an incredible amount of time as it is,” he said.

He’s estimated that businesses at the complex would create about 70 full- or part-time jobs, and generate in the range of $60,000 in tax revenue a year.

Photo / Maureen Milliken
The site at 435 Main St. Damariscotta, where a 30,000-square-foot office/retail development is being built by Commercial Properties, of Portland.

Roots in the community

Commercial Properties and Camden National Bank have a long working relationship, but this is the first branch of the bank on one of Commercial Properties’ developments, Catlin said.

"We're very happy," Catlin said. We;ve been doing business with them for over 20 years."

“They have some great roots in Damariscotta, and they’re all about making a long-term commitment,” he said.

Greg Dufour, president and CEO of the bank, in the news release announcing the project, said, “We are pleased to deepen our commitment to the Damariscotta community.”

He said the open-concept design “will blend technology with in-person guidance to reflect a modern, welcoming banking experience for all of the customers, families, businesses and nonprofits we support in the area.”

The bank expects no interruption of service for customers when it moves. The bank made a similar move in Waterville last year, when it moved from its building on Main Street to space in the Bill and Joan Alfond Commons a few blocks north. Colby College razed the building as part of its Lockwood Hotel development.

Camden National plans to hold a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Damariscotta site in the spring.

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