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January 17, 2020

To support growing workforce, WEX will build $50M ops center in Scarborough

Map of The Downs showing where the WEX building will be located. Courtesy / Crossroads Holdings LLC and WEX At The Downs mixed-use development in Scarborough, WEX will build a new employment center that will consolidate six South Portland offices into one new location,

WEX Inc. (NYSE: WEX), a fast-growing provider of global corporate payment solutions with an equity value of around $9.8 billion, on Thursday unveiled plans to build a $50 million operations center at The Downs in Scarborough to accommodate its growing workforce. 

The new facility, to be located at a mixed-use community being developed by Crossroads Holdings LLC, will consolidate six South Portland offices into one location and include a cafeteria, fitness center and access to nearby day care. 

WEX spokesman Rob Gould said that while it's too early to say how many employees will be at the new facility initially, the building will hold up to 1,200 employees "and certainly gives us room to grow, which was a desired feature."

WEX, one of Maine's largest public employers led by CEO and Chair Melissa Smith, last year opened a new global headquarters in Portland's East End. Currently home to 400 employees, the waterfront building can accommodate up to 500.

A second downtown building, currently in construction and due to be ready for occupancy in September, will also hold up 500 employees and include a gym available to all WEX employees.

The Scarborough building is scheduled to break ground this year, with spring 2022 as the planned move-in date. 

"In general, we're pretty much impressed with the overall master plan for The Downs," Safet Cobaj, WEX's vice president, global real estate, told Mainebiz by phone Thursday after the announcement. "We continue to see the desire for the live-work environment for our employees."

He cited housing and a trail system among the attractions, along with room for further corporate expansion.

"In terms of employee engagement and retention and getting new employees, we thought this would be the perfect formula," he said.

WEX was represented in The Downs deal by Charles Craig of NAI The Dunham Group.

Landry/French Construction of Scarborough will manage construction of the new WEX office, according to a spokeswoman for Crossroads Holdings.

She said Landry/French is also working with the development group on the design of the planned sports complex, with other contractors also working within The Downs. The sports complex is currently in the planing stage, with design and permitting scheduled for this winter and spring, she added.

Big plans for 525 acres

Crossroads Holdings bought 525 acres of land in January 2018 that it's aiming to turn into a "live, work, play" community with residential, commercial and recreational features as well as a walkable town center. The master plan also preserves 200 acres of green space and creates 10 miles of recreational trails.

“We are very pleased that WEX is coming to town and we’re honored they chose The Downs — this will have a positive impact on the local economy,”  Roccy Risbara, principal at Crossroads Holdings, said in Thursday's announcement.

Roccy Risbara at Scarborough Downs
Photo / Tim Greenway
Roccy Risbara, principal of Crossroads Holdings, said WEX's move to The Downs "will have a positive impact on the local economy."

The Downs is already home to 48 apartments that are built and fully occupied; 32 garden condominiums built, sold and occupied; 16 duplex condominiums built and sold, the majority of which are occupied; and 30 single-family homes, the majority of which have been completed, sole and occupied.

Next up are a 12-bed boutique memory-care facility currently in construction and due to be ready for occupancy this spring; two light industrial buildings in construction in the Innovation District with occupancy slated for this summer; nine industrial lots under contract and in the design/planning stage set to break ground in 2020; and a 39-unit senior housing development currently in design and permitting, with construction set to start this spring.

In a 2018 "On the Record" interview with Mainebiz, Risbara said the developers see the project as a unique opportunity to do a project with a lasting impact.

"We are truly locals and deeply love this community," he said at the time. "Our team wants to create a great project that serves as an economic driver for the town for generations to come. "

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