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Updated: February 10, 2020 From the Editor

Southern Maine’s ever-evolving business climate

While this issue focuses on southern Maine, there’s a recurring theme in some of these stories.

Maine’s real estate values and much of its economy have been driven by two counties, Cumberland and York. They’ve also seen population gains that outpace the average in Maine.

Yet the economy is evolving in different ways — with redevelopment, urban infill and a mix of public and private investment, as the stories in this issue illustrate.

For our cover story, Renee Cordes looks at the changes in downtown Biddeford. We’ve already seen mills converted to housing and retail. Now, the former incinerator site, known as MERC, will have new life as an $90 million mixed-use development, which might qualify as urban infill. See Page 12. Renee also provides an update on the redevelopment of Scarborough Downs, now known as The Downs, which got a big shot in the arm recently with Portland-based WEX Inc.’s plans to open a satellite operations center there. With housing and retail also planned, this is a case where the 500-acre Downs site had been a hole in the doughnut, surrounded by Scarborough’s other retail, residential and commercial growth. See Page 14.

Elsewhere in the issue, Maureen Milliken offers a glimpse of a growing trend of manufactured home parks, also known as mobile home parks, converting to co-op ownership. We’ve long heard of apartment buildings in cities like New York going this direction. In Maine, it has become a way for residents, who own their homes but not the land under them, to take some control of their future — particularly as real estate values grow. Maureen focuses on the Charter Oaks Village, which is on the Biddeford-Arundel line. See Page 18.

Meanwhile, Laurie Schreiber, who writes about real estate and the commercial fishing industry for Mainebiz, has a story that’s an intersection of her areas of expertise. She writes about how Saco has become a center of fish-processing plants. With a combination of affordable industrial space, tax incentives, grants and infrastructure, Saco has been aggressive about recruiting lobster companies and others to its industrial park. See Page 20.

For more of a look at the residential real estate market in Cumberland and York counties, see Will Hall’s story about the most expensive ZIP Codes, on Page 6. A thumbnail on the demographics of the two counties and how they compare to the rest of Maine is offered on Page 11.

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