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Updated: April 15, 2024 Focus on Real Estate/Construction/Design

Saco sees windfall in Route 1 development, filling in overlooked stretch of highway

File Photo / Tim Greenway Tracey Desjardins, Saco economic development director, has seen a wave of development on U.S. Route 1.

An overlooked stretch of U.S. Route 1 in Saco is attracting new interest from developers, home builders and retailers.

The U.S. Route 1 corridor has added chain restaurants like Chipotle and Jersey Mike’s. The stretch of the highway around the Saco and Scarborough border has been a hot spot, said Tracey Desjardins, Saco’s economic development director.

Where there were once vacant lots and fields, Saco has seen development of apartments and single-family housing developments, a coffee franchise, storage units, tiny homes, a Hancock Lumber store, housing near Aquaboggan Water Park and more. Several projects are underway, including more housing, a gas station and another coffee franchise.

“Route 1 has a little more flexibility,” says Desjardins. “That area made the most sense to develop because there is so much underdeveloped property out there … It really shows how involved the developers have been. We have a commercial and residential side, so you are getting a real good fix for that area.”

Much of what developers were looking for was already in place.

“The area is also pretty attractive as far as access to the highway, business parks, and industrial parks, so it plays into the area that is already available and maybe has already been developed,” says Emily Cole-Prescott, planning director for the city of Saco.

Here is a look at the future of Route 1 in Saco.

More housing

Clover Leaf Development LLC is a 120-unit apartment complex under construction at 989 Portland Road and within the Portland Road District. The property abuts a cemetery and Aquaboggan Water Park.

The subject parcel has an overall area of 66 acres. The apartment complex will include 10 apartment buildings, each with 12 units. Of the 120 units, 108 will be studio or one-bedroom apartments. The remaining units will be two bedrooms. Terradyn Consultants LLC has been the engineer working on the project.

“These are already under construction,” says Cole-Prescott. “If you drive out there, they look nice. They are almost done in the front buildings, and they will close out toward the back of the building. So I assume we will see those done relatively soon, and we will see some of those units opening up.”

Across the street, at 990 Portland Road, construction is underway on a complex with 100 rental units. They will be part of Cascade Falls.

Cascade Falls is the city’s newest residential neighborhood, offering a variety of single-family house styles and sizes. The area already has apartments, condominiums and single-family homes.

This project is being done by Chamberlain Homes, owned by Elliott Chamberlain, a builder in southern Maine.

The Cascade Falls Apartments, at 10 Waterfall Drive, includes 68 townhouses and 72 apartments.

The residential area will have walking trails, parks, a neighborhood community center and shops. It will be the Sacos version of the Downs project, which is taking place in Scarborough.

All the apartments and housing are at market rate. But Cole-Prescott told Mainebiz that the planning board will be looking into more affordable housing this year.

“In October, we were ahead of a lot of other communities in the state to adopt LD 2003 and as part of that process, we all agreed we were going to look at affordable housing opportunities as a second round of ordinance revisions,” says Cole-Prescott.

“We will be looking at that more closely this year and try to lay out how to [add] more affordable and different types of varieties of housing. Our plan calls for us to have a variety of housing as one of the policy goals.”

Storage facility

A 62,725-square-foot self-storage facility has already been completed and is open. Maine Coast Storage offers drive-up units that are all climate-controlled. The facility is located at 1031 Portland Road and is locally owned and operated by RCT Saco LLC and IW Saco LLC.

Saco welcomes a new coffee shop

Ziggi’s Coffee, a franchise brand that started in Colorado, opened its first Maine store on Feb. 20, at 3 Waterfall Drive in Saco, near the Scarborough town line.

In Saco, the Ziggi’s location, which broke ground in late September, is new construction. The building is 1,000 square feet, according to Nick Cormier, business development manager at PM Construction Co. The coffee shop will have a drive-thru and walk-up windows, as well as seasonal outdoor seating.

Photo / Alexis Wells
Ziggi’s Coffee, a franchise brand that started in Colorado, opened its first Maine store on Feb. 20, at 3 Waterfall Drive in Saco, near the Scarborough town line.

Along with PM Construction, the project team included Port City Architecture and Sebago Technics.

“The construction went smoothly and was on schedule, ultimately aided by a mild winter,” Cormier told Mainebiz at the time of the opening.

Ziggi’s Coffee was founded in 2004 by Brandon and Camrin Knudsen in Longmont, Colo., north of Denver. It has since grown into a drive-thru and coffee house chain. The company reportedly has around 75 locations in more than a dozen states and opened 17 locations last year.

Elsewhere in Saco, other coffee shop franchises include Starbucks, Dunkin’ and Aroma Joe’s.

What else is in the works?

  • 1020 Portland Road: storage facility (under construction)
  • 991 Portland Road (Waterfall Drive): a 90-unit multifamily proposal (under review)
  • 923 Portland Road: A proposed Cumberland Farms (approved; not yet under construction)
  • 644 Main St.: commercial office space with duplex (approved; not yet under construction)
  • Cascade Road: a proposed Aroma Joe’s coffee shop with drive-through window (not yet approved; under review)
  • 955 Portland Road: Pack Edge facility (under construction)
  • 969 Portland Road: proposed Hale Trailer facility with associated site work (not yet approved; under review)

“As a city, we are doing an initiative for the Portland Road subarea plan,” says Cole-Prescott. “We are looking at that area to help promote development and redevelopment. We are also doing a community-wide plan to build up a path forward for that area as well.

"There is a lot you can do in the Route 1 corridor that maybe you can’t do in the downtown area as far as package facilities; they would need a large facility, a large building; they need more space than they can probably get in the middle of downtown.”

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