ELLSWORTH – Hancock County’s largest city, and its literal center, covers more than 90 square miles, so there are plenty of potential areas for growth.
One such area, Route 1 west extending toward Bucksport, has emerged as a prime spot for development, in large part due to existing infrastructure and high visibility.
In recent months, a mix of commercial and residential development projects have sprung up on Route 1, known locally as Bucksport Road, and still more are in the planning stages.
“I think a lot of landowners in that area are sensing its potential for development,” City Manager Michelle Beal said.
Since the area was identified in a recently released economic development strategy as one of Ellsworth’s best bets for potential, it’s safe to assume that more growth is on the way.
“The city doesn’t own land there, but we’re always working with landowners and looking at ways to give developers incentives,” City Planner Michele Gagnon said.
The long, straight stretch of Route 1 west of Ellsworth leading to Orland is in relatively good shape and developers are starting to take advantage.
Developer Steve Joy, also a member of the Ellsworth Planning Board, has built an office building on Bucksport Road in hopes of attracting small businesses. Dr. Lawrence Piazza has plans for one as well.
The Ellsworth Masons, who vacated their former building on Main Street, have built a new lodge west of the city.
A couple is in the process of building a large horse stable and riding arena, Breezy Maples Farm, farther down the roadway.
Landowner Joseph Debeck has been cleared to expand his Dollard Hill Estates subdivision by creating 24 new lots on 30 acres off Bucksport Road.
Another housing project, the Cindy Cookson house, will create eight housing units in two buildings for adults with disabilities.
Since Ellsworth has a strong toehold in retail expansion, especially with a 26-store, 500,000-square-foot shopping center in the works, Beal said, Bucksport Road will be marketed for other uses.
The development to the city’s west may not bring piles of money into Ellsworth, but the city manager said it’s a perfect way to diversify the city’s commercial sector.
“The biggest asset there is the amount of land available,” Beal said.
The only real drawback to the area is significant wetlands, but it’s nothing that can’t be worked around, she said.