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January 21, 2016

Tillson Avenue in Rockland the newest site for redevelopment

PHOTO CREDIT / JAMES MCCARTHY The waterfront off of Tillson Avenue in Rockland. Tillson Avenue is currently being discussed as the newest site for redevelopment in the city.

Rockland could be in for another wave of resurgence, with the possibility of new development in an 8-acre area on and around Tillson Avenue, The Working Waterfront reported.

City officials told the paper they are confident that some key, undeveloped or under-developed parcels in that area — which forms a peninsula just east of Rockland's bustling Main Street — may change hands in the coming months. And when they do, new enterprises could be launched, which may trigger a flurry of other investment, the newspaper reported.

Historically a hub for sardine canneries, seafood processing plants and limestone quarries, Rockland has absorbed waves of change as those industries faltered or disappeared altogether.

The entire region was buoyed by investments from MBNA, starting in the early 1990s. The Delaware-based credit card company brought 1,900 jobs to Belfast, and thousands of others throughout the state, and poured money into local community groups and institutions. In 2001, MBNA became the city's biggest taxpayer when it built a call center on Rockland's Water Street that created 300 jobs and revived a key section of the waterfront. MBNA closed the call center in 2005, in the wake of the bank's acquisition by Bank of America.

Boston Financial Data Services Inc. moved into the building in 2008 and created 200 jobs there and has plans to add up to 100 more positions.

More recently, there has been momentum in the development of businesses and events related to the arts — such as the Farnsworth Museum, the Strand Theater, numerous galleries, restaurants and other businesses — as well as marine-related businesses and music, lobster and boat festivals, which together have grown into a major piece of the city’s economy and made Rockland into a visitor and boater draw.

In recent years, more attention and effort have been aimed at the Tillson peninsula area, including the completion five years ago of a report drafted by the citizen economic development advisory committee. The report resulted in zoning changes to optimize desirable development and goals that include maintaining public access to the water and maintaining the city's longtime working waterfront uses; linking Main Street to the Tillson Avenue area; and infrastructure upgrades.

Read more

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