Monday, July 21, 2008

Main Street Dreamin' (a.k.a. Monday Morning Meander)

Matt Wickenheiser's article about the latest action in the Pike v. Neighbors sitch (see below) closes with this thought to consider:

[Pike regional manager] Olson said putting a new asphalt plant in at Spring
Street would allow Pike to close operations on Main Street, at the corner of
Larrabee, and on Bishop Street in Portland. Operations would be consolidated at
Spring Street, with no job losses, he said. The Main Street site is 50 acres,
and developers have already expressed interest in it, said Olson, and Pike is
open to offers for the property. "It's a chance to put a shine on the image of
the city," said Olson. "Whenever you're driving up the Turnpike, it's what you
see as the visible part of Westbrook."

[Emphasis mine]

Though Olson's comment could be construed as a veiled threat against the city (let us expand our Spring Street operations, or you won't be able to develop our chunk of visible land on Main Street), I'll take it as a friendly reminder of the second phase of Pike's plans for expansion: The sale and subsequent re-development of their property on Main Street.

On the one hand, the coterie behind Stroudwater Place could save themselves a lot of potential grief by somehow finagling a real estate exchange of their Stroudwater Street property for Pike's swath of land on Main Street. But such a move--which I think would lessen opposition to the project because of the Main Street property's previous development and its proximity to the Westbrook Crossing shopping plaza-- is obviously fraught with too many complications (the Stroudwater Place developers have already invested a lot of time, energy, and capital into the Stroudwater property; there's the big question of clean-up at Pike's Main Street digs; Pike would be obliged to sell the Stroudwater Street property for development, which would dampen the goal of conserving Stroudwater Street as it is; and thirty other pitfalls I have not considered in the thirty minutes it's taken me to write this post).

So a relocation of Stroudwater Place is, I think, out of the question.

Nevertheless, Stroudwater Place does enter the equation of what to do with Pike's Main Street property, even if it's not involved in an explicit exchange of land. There is, for example, the possibility of a civic center or a convention center being constructed on Pike's land. However, Jason Snyder and Co. have already inserted possible plans for a convention center or ice rink into their Stroudwater Place proposal. So the doubtful possibility of a civic center on Westbrook's Main Street becomes even more doubtful. Moreover, a natural fit for Pike's Main Street property would be more retail. But, considering that is the primary focus of Stroudwater Place's pitch, would retail make sense?

Essentially, whatever is proposed for development on Pike's property should be considered as though Stroudwater Place is a reality, because there could be risk for redundancy.

Anyway, these are all questions and possibilities too grand for me to tackle myself on a Monday morning, so my questions for the day are these: What would you like to see built on Pike's Main Street property? And what do you think will constructed on the property.

- John C.L. Morgan

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problems between Pike and Idexx underscore Westbrook's need to reserve strategic land parcels for light, clean industry a la Idexx and Artel. That form of land use serves a higher purpose for the city than retail.