Building on the biggest purpose-built conference and occasions middle 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 dwell leisure, had been launched by Waterstone Properties on Thursday. The developer is looking for funds from a proposed public bond concern to assist pay for the challenge.

If constructed, it may entice as much as 200 occasions a yr and fulfill a years-long demand for a conference middle. Plans embody an hooked up resort and parking storage. Building may begin as early as 2023.

Waterstone is fascinated by amending a invoice that might introduce a $115 million bond concern for a conference middle in Portland and enhancements to the Augusta Civic Middle so the cash might be used for the proposed middle at Rock Row, an organization spokesman mentioned.

“We predict the realm can’t assist two related venues which are shut to at least one one other,” mentioned Greg John. “If there may be going to be a facility anyplace, it must be at Rock Row. We will plan for infrastructure, not plopping one thing in a downtown neighborhood that’s congested and has parking issues.”

Conceptual plans for the conference middle at Rock Row say it may maintain greater than 8,200 individuals and be modified for company occasions, commerce exhibits, conventions and dwell leisure. Rendering courtesy of Rock Row/Waterstone Properties

Whereas the deliberate middle would have an identical seating capability to the Cross Insurance coverage Area in Portland and Cross Insurance coverage Middle in Bangor, it might be the most important facility of its sort in Maine, John mentioned.

“In evaluating each of these, you’re evaluating apples and oranges,” he mentioned. “There are different amenities in Maine which are constructed as stadiums. They often have enterprise conferences and occasions, however these occasions are few and much between as a result of they aren’t constructed for that.”

The proposed middle would have 110,000 sq. ft of divisible occasion house, together with a 35,000-square-foot house for use for displays, 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 mentioned.

The proposed conference middle would have 110,000 sq. ft of occasion house, together with a 35,000-square-foot house for displays, conferences or performances. Rendering courtesy of Rock Row/Waterstone Properties

Waterstone proposed a conference middle for the mixed-use growth final yr. It might be constructed on the placement of an outside dwell music and leisure pavilion that opened in 2019 and suspended concert events and actions this September.

It might signify one other growth section for the $600 million, multi-year redevelopment challenge so as to add flats, places of work, buying and eating places in a 110-acre former quarry abutting Interstate 95.

“That is an thought whose time has come,” Westbrook Mayor Michael Foley mentioned in a press release.

Whereas recurring plans for a conference house through the years have centered on downtown Portland, the previous quarry redevelopment at Rock Row is a perfect location for a venue of this scale, Foley mentioned.

“Constructing this at Rock Row permits us to plan correctly from the start and guarantee there may be satisfactory parking, site visitors circulation and different options that can maximize use and decrease native inconveniences,” he mentioned. “We solely have one likelihood to do that proper and create one thing we’ll all be pleased with.”

Plans for the $75 million conference middle on the Rock Row mixed-use growth in Westbrook embody an hooked up resort and parking storage. Rendering courtesy of Rock Row/Waterstone Properties

MODELED ON TOYOTA MUSIC FACTORY

The middle is modeled on the Toyota Music Manufacturing facility on the outskirts of Dallas, and would characteristic a retractable wall that might open to a garden seating space, Waterstone mentioned. It may convey as much as 343 full-time jobs to the realm, it mentioned.

Demand for a conference middle in Portland, at the least amongst some quarters, goes again many years. The concept has resurfaced repeatedly prior to now 10 years, however a profitable proposal has by no means emerged.

Within the meantime, the Portland area is shedding out on the financial enhance that might come from elevated tourism and enterprise journey a conference middle would entice, Waterstone Founding Associate Josh Levy mentioned. Some massive native firms, reminiscent of Idexx Laboratories, maintain firm occasions out of state as a result of they don’t have satisfactory assembly house, he added.

“With out query, our new occasion facility at Rock Row can have a profound and optimistic financial affect on the area and state for a lot of many years,” Levy mentioned in a press release. “We’re filling an actual and pent-up want and can entice regional, nationwide and worldwide conferences that our state and native companies are at the moment shedding out on.”


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