Posted by Julie L'Heureux
Bowen Depke introduced Rocco Risbara of Risbara Brothers and Dan Bacon, Project Mgr of Gorrill Palmer Planning. They presented an overview about "The Downs,” the mixed-use redevelopment project currently under construction at the Scarborough Downs harness racing property. Scarborough Downs was constructed in 1949 as a racetrack for thoroughbred horse races and was completed in 1950. A show of hands demonstrated that many of the Rotarians were already familiar with the race track. Risbara and Bacon are confident about the future for redevelopment in the historic Scarborough property, because of the three essential rules being: (1) location (2) best use and (3) an experienced development team.
All of the developers in The Downs project are lifelong Scarborough residents.  Before they became interested in redeveloping The Downs, Risbara had experience in municipal planning and Bacon was leading the constructing of apartments in Portland. When the Scarborough Downs zoning changed to mixed use, the team engaged in a market study that determined how the location was ideal for almost any usage, because of the property's easy access to all major arteries and being located in the geographic center of Scarborough on 500 acres of land with access to adjacent roads.
Their plan includes constructing tree-lined streets to connect the planned community, which will seamlessly balance recreation, retail, residential, and commercial development and intended to bring vitality to the center of Scarborough. Currently, a community center is planned, and a sports facility is expected to be permitted in the fall, that will potentially include a swimming pool.  Another residential phase is also planned with a focus on work and a light industrial use park designed with smaller lots and sidewalks. Plans include the development of a commercial gateway district, a retail location, an innovation district and conservation trails. While the property re-development is advancing, the racetrack remains at the center of the property. The track is operating and will continue for at least the next couple of years. 

Residential development plans will eventually include a balance of single-family homes, duplexes, garden condominiums, apartments and a senior living center.  Questions were asked about the cost of the single-family homes and condominiums. The first phase homes sold at an opening price of $325,000 to $375,000 and phase II will likely start with a slightly higher entry point.  Condominiums start at $365,000. Apartments are one and two bedroom and rent from $1,375 to $1,550 per month. 

Plans for the use of energy efficiency technology are being considered in the planning. The intention is for the total project at The Downs to advance and be completed within 10-12 years.  For more information, visit The Downs website:
(Photo L-R: PP Bowen Depke, Dan Bacon, PP Roxane Cole, Rocco Risbara and President John Curran.)