July 24, 2019

Calais board to review retail center

CALAIS — The Calais Planning Board will have a full agenda at its meeting Tuesday night when it reviews a preliminary site plan for a 170,000-square-foot retail-strip center on South Street.

The plan for the $10 million project will be presented by W/S Development Associates Inc. of South Portland and Chestnut Hill, Mass.

The developers also will require a public hearing for a zone change from I-2 and R-1 to C-2, at the same site on South Street.

The plan calls for a 98,358-square-foot anchor store and a 39,821-square-foot grocery store. The plan also includes a 10,800-square-foot and a 30,000-square-foot retail store.

Robert Frazier, project manager for the developer, said in a telephone interview from his office in Chestnut Hill Friday, that if the project remains on schedule, the builders hope to break ground this summer. Although the project may be done in two phases, with the anchor store built in the first phase, and the other stores built in the second phase, he said the developers hoped to complete the projects concurrently.

Although Frazier was reluctant to release information about who the lessees might be, he may be asked that question Tuesday night. The site plan for the project shows a large retail area, with a separate garden shop, and a six-bay automotive center for tire, battery and oil changes. That profile could fit a Walmart, K-Mart or Sears store.

A problem that must be resolved before the project moves forward is a large wetland area that runs through the center of the proposed project. The developers already have met with representatives of the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Environmental Protection to discuss that issue.

Calais City Manager Byron Burke said Friday the developers also will have to resolve the matter of parking space before the project moves forward. “Given the number of square feet they are talking about, they have not yet been able to come up with the necessary parking spaces. It is difficult to tell at this point how many square feet of these buildings will be actual retail space,” Burke said.

Speculation that a large strip mall might be built developed last year, when some area residents noticed activity at the site. Because similar projects have been announced in other parts of the state, but never came to fruition, Frazier was asked if he believed the proposed Calais project was a sure thing.

“Times have changed in the way we look at these projects. That is why we are sensitive as far as making public who the prospective tenants are. We want to make sure everyone is signed up before we divulge any information. In terms of speculating, we go into a project with very little speculative space. We go in with a very strong feeling we have tenants on board, and we don’t allow for any speculative areas,” Frazier said.

Other items on the Planning Board’s agenda are:

A request from Kendall Carson for an apartment on the second floor over Kendall’s Jewelry Store at 107 Main St.

A request from Paul Emery for approval of an in-home chiropractic business at 120 South St.

A request from Madelyn Farmer to build a garage at Keene’s Lake in a shoreland zone.

A request from Janet Greenlaw for a public hearing on a zone change of Map 3, Block 4 from R-1 to R-4.

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