Gorham planners got their first look Monday at an architectural rendering of a high-rise building proposed in downtown Gorham.
Developer Jon Smith, president of Gorham-based Great Falls Construction Inc., showed members of the Planning Board’s Ordinance Committee his plans for the project at a former lumber yard at 17 Railroad Ave., the street behind Hannaford Supermarket.
The proposal is for a mixed-use building with office suites, commercial and retail businesses and residential apartments. A bowling center and restuarant on the ground floor would be the primary tenant, Smith said Wednesday.
“We’re excited about it,” Smith said.
The rendering by architect Mike Richman, of Custom Concepts Inc. in Scarborough, has a railroad-theme appearance, including a 53-foot clock tower. The design is in keeping with the history of the area, when the Portland and Rochester Railroad line ran through Gorham. The building’s exterior will be wood, though Smith said colors have yet to be determined.
The project, with its tallest part 73 feet high, exceeds zoning limits of 35 feet. So, elevation is one reason the project requires a special so-called contract zone. Conditions in a contract would be reviewed by the Planning Board and its recommendation would be forwarded to the Town Council, which would have the final say. Both boards would schedule public hearings.
If Smith receives a contract zone, the project then would need a site plan approval by the Planning Board.
Smith, who introduced the project to the town in March, said there’s a multitude of steps ahead.
“We’re in the pipeline,” he said.
The project drew some positive feedback from planners in Monday’s committee meeting. Edward Zelmanow, Planning Board chairman, praised the rendering.
Board member George Fox said, “It’s a great-looking design.”
Smith said Wednesday that with up to 40 residential units possible, prospective tenants seeking apartments are already calling. For residents, the building’s fourth-story section will feature rooftop community space like a patio.
The building will have two retail spaces available on the ground floor and offices suites on second and third floors. The tall, vertical end of the building could house a quiet facility on the fourth and fifth floors to enjoy wine or a cocktail, Smith said.
Owens McCullough of Sebago Technics presented planners Monday with a proposed parking design that calls for about 180 spots.
“It’s been an exhaustive exercise,” McCullough said.
Smith said 170 parking spaces would be located on the site, with others located on the opposite side of Railroad Avenue.
David Galbraith, Gorham zoning administrator, said Wednesday the proposed residential density would benefit businesses in Gorham’s downtown.
“I think it looks great,” Galbraith said, and also praised the quality of Smith’s work.
Smith hopes to start the project this year.
“We’d love to be in the ground by late fall,” Smith said.
In other news, in the Planning Board’s regular monthly meeting Monday, the board approved 6-0 (Scott Firmin absent) the Glenwater Village subdivision with 20 single-family lots along with 10 apartment units in five buildings off Glenwood Avenue and Water Street.
Greg McCormack and Amy Mulkerin, business partners in Bramblewood LLC, proposed the development. Approval of the project was delayed from May when the public raised traffic and environmental concerns.
The town is requiring the developers to build a sidewalk from the development to Water Street as far as its intersection with Church Street. But developers were not required to extend the sidewalk along Water Street from Church Street to Main Street.
McCormack said in Monday’s meeting it should be the town’s responsibility for a sidewalk extension. The issue drew some public opposition.
Aaron Hill, 72 Water St., had concerns with added volume of traffic and pedestrians.
“There are safety issues there,” Hill said.
Benjamin Gowdy, 30 Water St., moved to Gorham to get away from traffic issues in Saco and didn’t know why taxpayers should bear the burden of a sidewalk extension.
Robert Berks, 14 Glenwood Ave., said the whole area will be more congested and that he wants the town to extend the sidewalk.
Following this spring’s public allegations of dumping years ago in the area, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection inspected the site and also requested the developer perform an ssessment. It was conducted by an engineering firm.
The results indicate that “there is no evidence of a significant hazardous materials released in the area investigated,” printed Gorham Planning Board material about the inspection reported.
The report also said the state concurred that no further investigation is required.
Developer Jon Smith of Great Falls Construction Inc. shows Gorham planners Monday a rendering of his project proposed for Railroad Avenue. The project would have a mixed use of commercial, retail and apartments.