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Updated: January 22, 2021

Temporary COVID vaccination site going up at the Downs in Scarborough

Grandstand building exterior Photo / Jim Neuger The old Scarborough Downs grandstand, photographed in 2019, will be converted into a temporary high-volume COVID-19 vaccination site by the owners and developers of The Downs mixed-use development.

The developers of the Downs in Scarborough will turn the old harness-racing grandstand into a temporary COVID-19 vaccination clinic for MaineHealth, they announced on Thursday.

To accomplish the task, developer Crossroads Holdings LLC has reassigned construction crews from their ongoing work to retrofit the grandstand into a high-volume vaccination clinic.

Developer Peter Michaud told Mainebiz the retrofit will be completed by Jan. 31, and that the idea stemmed from a call from Drew Sigfridson of Boulos Co., which is taking reservations for industrial lots in the Innovation Park at the Downs.

"He mentioned that Maine Health was in need of a high-volume vaccination facility, and why not the grandstand?" Michaud said, adding, "The real heroes are the front-line health care people, and the is the least we can do to support the people of the great state of Maine."

Michaud, a partner in the Downs project to redevelop 525 acres into a "life-work-play" community, is also managing partner for Maine Properties LLC, Southern Maine Remodeling and M&R Holdings LLC.

The retrofit comes less than two months after Scarborough Downs hosted its last day of live harness racing, closing a bittersweet chapter on 70 years of history.

1,000 vaccinations a day

When finished, the 30,000-square-foot temporary clinic will be staffed with more than more than 100 MaineHealth employees and volunteers, with the ability to vaccinate about 1,000 people a day.

“Finding a space that is centrally located and able to accommodate all the needs of a high-volume clinic is vital to our efforts to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible,” said Bill Caron, CEO of MaineHealth and a 2019 Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year, said in a news release. “This generous donation ... is a big step forward in getting this pandemic under control and saving lives here in Maine.”

A 40-member construction team managed by Scarborough’s Maine Properties and Risbara Bros. Construction Co. will work seven a week through the end of January to set up the clinic, which is expected to be operational for six months.

The construction teams will build clinical works paces, improve access to high-speed broadband and build out refrigeration rooms needed to house the vaccines. The state will assist with on-site security.

Gov. Janet Mills has authorized the administration COVID-19 vaccines to people 70 and older, and MaineHealth said that it is working closely with the state to roll out vaccinations and clinics as quickly as possible.

Other vaccination sites 

Elsewhere in Maine, the Samoset Resort in Rockport is collaborating with Coastal Healthcare Alliance to donate function space within the resort to serve as a COVID-19 vaccination site for the surrounding community. 

The resort will host the clinics three days a week from Jan. 29 to March 31, and be able to vaccinate up to 400 people a day.

Samoset Resort is part of Ocean Properties Hotels and Resorts' Opal Collection, whose other Maine properties are the Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina and West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor.

“We are glad to do our part by partnering with our community healthcare professionals and donating function space in an effort to make a positive contribution to the critical vaccination process in the state of Maine,” said Connie Russell, Samoset Resort general manager, said in a a news release.

Another OP Hotel, Bar Harbor Regency in Bar Harbor, has also already opened its doors as a vaccination clinic in partnership with Mount Desert Island Hospital.

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