Building on the most important purpose-built conference and occasions heart in Maine may begin inside two years on the Rock Row growth in Westbrook.
Conceptual plans for the middle, which may price $75 million and maintain greater than 8,200 individuals and be modified for company occasions, commerce exhibits, conventions and reside leisure, had been launched by Waterstone Properties on Thursday. The developer is in search of funds from a proposed public bond subject to assist pay for the mission.
If constructed, it may appeal to as much as 200 occasions a yr and fulfill a years-long demand for a conference heart. Plans embody an connected resort and parking storage. Building may begin as early as 2023.
Waterstone is eager about amending a invoice that may introduce a $115 million bond subject for a conference heart in Portland and enhancements to the Augusta Civic Middle so the cash could possibly be used for the proposed heart at Rock Row, an organization spokesman stated.
“We expect the realm can’t help two comparable venues which might be shut to at least one one other,” stated Greg John. “If there’s going to be a facility wherever, it needs to be at Rock Row. We will plan for infrastructure, not plopping one thing in a downtown neighborhood that’s congested and has parking issues.”
Whereas the deliberate heart would have an analogous seating capability to the Cross Insurance coverage Enviornment in Portland and Cross Insurance coverage Middle in Bangor, it will be the most important facility of its form in Maine, John stated.
“In evaluating each of these, you’re evaluating apples and oranges,” he stated. “There are different services in Maine which might be constructed as stadiums. They often have enterprise conferences and occasions, however these occasions are few and much between as a result of they don’t seem to be constructed for that.”
The proposed heart would have 110,000 sq. toes of divisible occasion house, together with a 35,000-square-foot house for use for reveals, conferences or performances.
“That’s what is required within the house – we’re one of many solely states in America that doesn’t have a big assembly and conference space,” John stated.
Waterstone proposed a conference heart for the mixed-use growth final yr. It could be constructed on the placement of an out of doors reside music and leisure pavilion that opened in 2019 and suspended live shows and actions this September.
It could symbolize one other growth part for the $600 million, multi-year redevelopment mission so as to add residences, workplaces, procuring and eating places in a 110-acre former quarry abutting Interstate 95.
“That is an thought whose time has come,” Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley stated in a press release.
Whereas recurring plans for a conference house over time have centered on downtown Portland, the previous quarry redevelopment at Rock Row is a perfect location for a venue of this scale, Foley stated.
“Constructing this at Rock Row permits us to plan correctly from the start and guarantee there’s sufficient parking, visitors move and different options that may maximize use and reduce native inconveniences,” he stated. “We solely have one likelihood to do that proper and create one thing we’ll all be pleased with.”
MODELED ON TOYOTA MUSIC FACTORY
The middle is modeled on the Toyota Music Manufacturing unit on the outskirts of Dallas, and would characteristic a retractable wall that may open to a garden seating space, Waterstone stated. It may convey as much as 343 full-time jobs to the realm, it stated.
Demand for a conference heart in Portland, at the least amongst some quarters, goes again a long time. The thought has resurfaced repeatedly prior to now 10 years, however a profitable proposal has by no means emerged.
Within the meantime, the Portland area is dropping out on the financial increase that might come from elevated tourism and enterprise journey a conference heart would appeal to, Waterstone Founding Associate Josh Levy stated. Some massive native corporations, equivalent to Idexx Laboratories, maintain firm occasions out of state as a result of they don’t have sufficient assembly house, he added.
“With out query, our new occasion facility at Rock Row may have a profound and optimistic financial affect on the area and state for a lot of a long time,” Levy stated in a press release. “We’re filling an actual and pent-up want and can appeal to regional, nationwide and worldwide conferences that our state and native companies are presently dropping out on.”