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Old 01-15-2013, 05:08 PM   #21
John_French
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Re: Westbrook, ME

I absolutely can not believe the city is doing away with that section of Saco Street. Apparently the decision makers don't ever use it, I do, and it will be a great pain in the butt to use an alternate route. I can see another traffic signal coming at Main & Mechanic Streets, just what is needed. Who would want to live here? Can't get through, can't get out, can't get in. The bypass, as originally constructed is now a "boulevard" with more traffic lights than Main Street.
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:58 AM   #22
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Below is the preliminary design for the new Bridge Street Bridge re-alignment. They had a stack of handouts at the meeting last night at the middle school, but unfortunately this is the only one I retained.



They also had a bunch of renderings hanging on the walls of the new bridge, the new pedestrian bridge and other potential changes to the area, but I had to leave the meeting before I could snap a few pictures.

Stantec is heading up the design work on this, so it will probably be a while before the renderings become publically available.

Last edited by Dr. StrangeHat; 01-31-2013 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 03-04-2013, 09:59 AM   #23
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Article this morniong about some plans for downtown:

http://www.pressherald.com/news/west...013-03-04.html

While I'm still not thrilled with the idea of another drive-though bank replacing the Maine Rubber plant (I would rather this be something consistent with the city's Streetscape and Downtown Revitaliztion plans), I am intriqued by this comment in the atricle:

"Although he wouldn't divulge details, he said he's 'working on an exciting possibility of a public-private partnership' at Saccarappa Park, the downtown green space, and intimated it has to do with the relocation of City Hall."

I'm a big propoonent of moving City Hall back downtown. Placing it at Saccarappa Park would be ideal.
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Old 03-04-2013, 10:52 AM   #24
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Any Developments proposed for the parking lots along Wayside Dr?
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Old 03-04-2013, 12:24 PM   #25
Dr. StrangeHat
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Nothing formal. All I've heard are the ideas that have been floated around for the past 5-10 years. Namely, some sort of parking structure with street level retail.

If it were me, then I'd level that whole row buildings on Main Street from CVS to Hub Furnture and build 2-3 distinct 3-4 story buildings with retail on the ground floor, office on the middle floors and residential on the top floor, and then do the same on Wayside/William Clarke Drive, leaving a courtyard in between.

Just gotta land that winning $500 million Powerball ticket...
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:39 PM   #26
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Nothing is going to change anything in da brook. It would take Portland's population to triple and force people to commute from Westbrook for it to ever get cleaned up and be a viable place for young people to live.
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Old 03-05-2013, 07:37 AM   #27
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Re: Westbrook, ME

I think with a little will and some progressive push you could easily make all the Portland Suburbs livable and attractive.
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:03 AM   #28
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Re: Westbrook, ME

No, its too late. It will be what it is for the next few decades at least. You have a run down mill town thats been overrun with section 8 housing and drug users and dealers. Not to mention the worst is actually on or right off the main corridor. Its children raising children out there. Its sad cause westbrook people are friendly but even they say how bad it's become
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Old 03-05-2013, 08:28 AM   #29
Nexis4jersey
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Quote:
Originally Posted by grittys457 View Post
No, its too late. It will be what it is for the next few decades at least. You have a run down mill town thats been overrun with section 8 housing and drug users and dealers. Not to mention the worst is actually on or right off the main corridor. Its children raising children out there. Its sad cause westbrook people are friendly but even they say how bad it's become
Thats sad , but not surprising....how long ago did it start to slide?
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Old 03-05-2013, 10:47 AM   #30
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Re: Westbrook, ME

See, I have a different view. I grew up in Westbrook and lived there until moving to Portland at the ripe age of 23 in 2003. I thought the city had hit rock-bottom then, and I vowed to never move back. I started working in Westbrook in 2005, but I lived in Portland until my (now) wife and I moved to Massachusetts in 2008.

We moved back to Portland in 2011, and I still remained fervent in my vow to never move back to Westbrook. However, I started working in Westbrook when we moved back to the area, and I started to rediscover the city. I saw improvement from the city I left in 2003. There were more restaurants and delis, downtown seemed a little more vibrant, and slowly it seemed that the city was making a comeback.

I do need to emphasize the "slowly" part. Yes, there are still large tracts of the city that are run down, and Section 8 housing seems to be the nor rather than the exception. But there are glimmers of hope. There are sections of town that are coming back around, with homes and apartment buildings being remolded. There is further hope for downtown if the city can pull it's collective head out of its a$$ with the Bridge Street Bridge re-alignment and the redevelopment of the Maine Rubber site and development of Saccarappa Park.

Is Westbrook on a pace consistent with Portland when it comes to development and re-development? Hell no. But I don’t see it on the downward trend. I think Westbrook can develop its own downtown and vitality separate from Portland. Of all of the Portland suburbs, Westbrook is the only one with a recognizable “downtown”.

As for my vow to never live in Westbrook again – we bought a house in Westbrook in October 2011, and we have no regrets.
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Old 03-05-2013, 11:17 AM   #31
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Re: Westbrook, ME

See, I look at the streets of westbrook every day. It is very very very depressing. There is absolutely nothing there but a few eateries. And when you said deli, I hope you meant Doughboys. Known them for years and they are awesome.

This started a couple decades ago. Westbrook was notorious for high school kids getting pregnant. It always had a rep, even when the mill was cranking. The problem is you have entire collections of white trash(Pardon my french) families that all grow up and hang out together. So not only do you get a trashy mom to a little kid, you get a trashy grandma hanging out.

The good people in westbrook are not within walking distance of Main street. You have nothing but a bunch of yahoos roaming the street. There is nothing professional about it. There is nothing encouraging about it.

I also hate to say this and I don't want to be mean, but Westbrook is really an uncultured collection of people. They are very stuck in their ways. If they got a dunkin donuts and a cumby's, that's pretty much all that's needed. It's like there is not a world outside of there or gorham, or standish, or any of those towns on that side. Now Portland hipsters can be just as annoying, but at least they have some clue of the real world.

Again let me make this clear, I love Westbrook people. I just don't like what has collected downtown. At this point, I don't see how someone opting for a town near Portland would pick da brook over South Portland, or Freeport, Falmouth, scarborough, etc.

I really don't think most people know how bad the drug situation is out there. It has dug a hole too deep.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:05 PM   #32
Dr. StrangeHat
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Quote:
Originally Posted by grittys457 View Post
At this point, I don't see how someone opting for a town near Portland would pick da brook over South Portland, or Freeport, Falmouth, scarborough, etc.
Simple answer - low cost of housing relative to the rest of the area and great potential upside/ROI if you're willing to make the bet that values will improve as the city improves (which is what I'm doing). I bought my house for 25-30% less than what it would be worth if it was in another neighboring town (2600 sq ft, 1/2 acre, 2-car garage). The value of my house improved by 11% in just six months from when we bought it based on the appraisals we had done, and I've only made nominal improvements.

Being able to walk to work every day helps as well. I've only put 5,000 on my vehicle in the past year.

I think your perception is much worse than reality. The reality may not be pristine, but it’s not a complete sewer as you depict.
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Old 03-05-2013, 12:36 PM   #33
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Re: Westbrook, ME

"I think your perception is much worse than reality. The reality may not be pristine, but it’s not a complete sewer as you depict. "

I spend about 340 days a year there, I know what I see and deal with. It is like one giant Honey Boo Boo episode.....except honey boo boo has a dad
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:04 PM   #34
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Re: Westbrook, ME

What other towns are similar to Westbrook?
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:37 PM   #35
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Not sure. Maybe brewer? Haha
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Old 03-05-2013, 05:50 PM   #36
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Westbrook is coming up - it's excruciatingly slow, but it is happening. It's happening even though pretty much every one of gritty's points is grounded and justifiable. That makes it a Sisyphean battle, but I've lived in Westbrook for 6 or 7 years now, and I have seen a lot of positive changes just in that time.

I mentioned in a previous post that I once lived in Davis Sq. Somerville back when it was still slummerville. There were a few key things it had going for it to speed the transition.

1 - top of anyone's list - T station going in - quick transit into Boston for commuters.
2 - late 80's recession ending
3 - Cambridge eliminating rent control, causing all the artists and students to flee across the border.
4 - the bones of a once important square to build on
5 - The Someday Cafe and Somerville Theater and Redbones to an extent to anchor the redevelopment.

I was amazed at how quickly the square changed at the time.

Westbrook has one of these so far - the bones to build on. As this recession ends, it might be able to take advantage of that as well.

But despite all the signs on the lamp posts, artists don't live here yet. There's a gallery now, but Westbrook Housing tried that artist condo development, and couldn't get three units sold. Though rents are cheaper, students don't live here in large numbers either.

Transit isn't really here either yet, but the rails were being worked on, and will likely be again after 2014. It might amount to nothing, but a start has been made

To the fifth point, and agreeing Gritty's point somewhat, while I think "nothing there but a few eateries" might be a bit dismissive of the number that have moved in over the last 4 years or so, there is nothing to hold foot traffic. Drive in, eat, drive out.

It was a mistake to spend a lot of taxpayer money to put a performing arts center in the middle school on Stroudwater. That money should have been funneled into converting one of the many disused churches that have been on again/ off again for sale downtown into a performance space to help provide a reason to stay in town after dinner.

A couple of suggestions to speed things up a bit:

Westbrook housing has to be stopped. The most efficient agency in this town is the one that builds low income housing. I ran into some data from a few government sites the other day - HUD and Census - and worked out that ranked by percentage of available housing stock that is section 8 or otherwise government subsidized, Westbrook ranks 4th in Maine at 10.1%. Fort Fairfield, Sanford, Van Buren, Westbrook. Portland comes in 9th at 5.6%. And we are still building it.

Rubber stamp any zoning changes necessary to get that River Park going on the falls. Worst case scenario, it fails, there's a fish run, and whatever tiny outfitter's shop gets built goes up for sale. Best case scenario, it works and brings people to the river, and they have something to do in town besides wait for a table. In conjunction with this, complete the north end of the riverwalk, something that has been talked about for at least 15 years, so it doesn't dead end at the mill and in a mystery park.

Absolutely move city hall into Saccarappa Park. I saw the article that Strangehat referenced, and wondered why that was the first mention of it. The water main that stopped the Flannery construction there is on the front of the site, and only was an issue I believe because of the requirement for underground parking - City Hall would fit just fine.

Pitch the Pike Main St quarry site, once it closes, as a site for a science/ tech college, or a pair of them - an SMCC campus and a polytechnic. SMCC is bursting at the seams in Sopo, traffic is becoming an issue, and it has no place to grow where it is. Move the science/tech classes to a brand new campus on the quarry site. Rail runs through the middle of it, it sits between two Turnpike exits, it's right on the Portland line, and it abuts Portland's new technology park. The only proposal I've heard so far for the area is another technology park. If all goes well, during the grand opening ceremonies a stray firework torches Denny's and that Motel Hell.
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Old 03-06-2013, 11:12 AM   #37
Dr. StrangeHat
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davepacz View Post
Rubber stamp any zoning changes necessary to get that River Park going on the falls. Worst case scenario, it fails, there's a fish run, and whatever tiny outfitter's shop gets built goes up for sale. Best case scenario, it works and brings people to the river, and they have something to do in town besides wait for a table. In conjunction with this, complete the north end of the riverwalk, something that has been talked about for at least 15 years, so it doesn't dead end at the mill and in a mystery park.
Well, the biggest hurdle to the River Park has been cleared - Sappi appears to be on board.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-relea...195554501.html

There was also discussion during the last public Bridge Street Bridge re-alignment meeting about using that project to kick-start completion of the northern river walk. I'd like to see them complete it at least as far as St. Hyacith's/St. Anthony's. DRMS will be pleased if that happens, since they were promised it would be completed when they decided to move to 1 Riverfront Plaza.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Davepacz View Post
The water main that stopped the Flannery construction there is on the front of the site, and only was an issue I believe because of the requirement for underground parking - City Hall would fit just fine.
Also discussed during the Bridge Street Bridge re-alignment meetings and a few email exchanges I've had with the City is the future of Saccarappa Park. The current plan is to try to develop only the front portion of the park along Main Street and leave back portion along the river as a park, fixing it up to actually be a park vs an empty parcel. I'm guessing the water main is the likely dividing line.

You can see the water main in this plan for the bridge re-alignment:



It's the line with the arrow, and you can see it's closer to the river than it is to Main Street. It still leaves a sizeable parcel for a new City Hall. You could put a building the size of the Edwards Block (building Portland Pie is in) in that lot.

Last edited by Dr. StrangeHat; 03-06-2013 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 03-06-2013, 04:34 PM   #38
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. StrangeHat View Post
Well, the biggest hurdle to the River Park has been cleared - Sappi appears to be on board.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-relea...195554501.html
That is very welcome news - they had spoken about gifting the city Saccarappa Island at one point, I'm curious if that is still under consideration as some of the "donation of land along the Presumpscot River to the City of Westbrook" the release speaks of.

And yes, I was way off with the position of that main - going from memory from a diagram in the American Journal when the issue first came up. More good news.

Thanks Strangehat, as you can probably tell from that post, my optimism had been starting to wane.
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Old 03-07-2013, 10:31 AM   #39
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Re: Westbrook, ME

Article in the Press Herald this morning with a obivously different twist compared to that press release I posted yesterday:

http://www.pressherald.com/news/sapp...013-03-07.html
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Old 03-22-2013, 12:28 PM   #40
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Re: Westbrook, ME

I really, really hope that whoever buys this land doesn't have his or her head as far up his or her a$$ as Jason Snyder does. I'd love to see this land get developed, but the Greater Portland area cannot support more retail complexes.

http://www.pressherald.com/news/West...er-snyder.html

Posted: March 21
Updated: Today at 10:34 AM

Prospects dim for massive Westbrook shopping project

Plans to build the state's largest shopping center appear unlikely as the land heads to auction.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK — A proposal to build the state's largest shopping center in Westbrook drew skepticism from the moment it surfaced five years ago. Now, with the undeveloped site headed to auction, prospects for completion seem far more unlikely.

Developer Jason Snyder was not able to pay lender Kimco Capital Corp. $1.9 million owed in mortgage and interest payments by Wednesday, his deadline to prevent a public sale of the property purchased by his late father.

Snyder, who planned to build a $300 million retail and recreational complex there, said losing the land is "devastating." His family's home is next door.

Snyder said he had raised some financing to hold onto the land, but it just wasn't enough to prevent a sale. Still, he hasn't lost all hope.

"I am looking at all my options," he said Wednesday, although he wouldn't go into detail.

Lawrence Clough, an attorney for Kimco, said the auction will likely happen within a few months.

The 61-acre site at exit 47 of the Maine Turnpike was among several properties on the Westbrook-Portland line that the late Arthur Snyder bought a half-century ago. One of the early developers to see potential in Portland's Old Port, he also saw promise near the turnpike.

Another of the properties, between Stroudwater and Congress streets, was the site of a more recent proposal by Jason Snyder -- for a sports and entertainment arena to be built in conjunction with the conversion of the Cumberland County Civic Center into a convention center. The plan never moved forward.

Snyder first approached Westbrook officials at the start of the recession in 2008 with his plan for a 1.6-million-square-foot retail, recreational and office complex called Stroudwater Place.

He had joined forces with Arthur Emil, a New York City lawyer and developer who owned the Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center.

They brought in a Boston design firm that had worked on Faneuil Hall, dropped names like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's as potential tenants and promised to bring 5,000 jobs to the city.

Over several months, city officials developed a contract zone for the property -- a process that generated a contentious public debate between people who wanted to move the project forward quickly and others who worried about what could be built on the land if restrictions weren't in place.

Some questioned the viability of the project, given the location and the economic climate. Then City Councilor Drew Gattine, who lives across Stroudwater Street from the property, cast the sole dissenting vote against the zone change.

"I hope that whoever ends up owning that property will work collaboratively with the city and the adjoining neighborhoods to make sure that any future use brings great benefit to the citizens of Westbrook," Gattine, now a state representative, wrote in an email Thursday.

Kenneth Lefebvre, a former Westbrook mayor who had publicly supported the project, said Thursday he doesn't believe it's dead yet.

"I certainly hope it can all be resolved," he said. "It all boils down to who shows up to the auction and what they bid."

Kimco has 90 days from Wednesday to publish a notice of sale, which it would have to do for three consecutive weeks before the auction, Clough said.

He would not say whether Kimco has any plans for the property.

"Right now, we're just getting through the mechanics of the legal process," he said.

Regardless of who owns it, the land will continue to be a prime site for development, said City Administrator Jerre Bryant.

"If indeed the property changes hands, it will be interesting to see what interest it attracts," he said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at

lbridgers@pressherald.com
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