Many developers use adaptive reuse to give a building a second life. Outside Portland, Maine, an ongoing 110-acre project looks to turn a quarry into a new, multimodal community.
Rock Row, a project of Waterstone Properties Group, will transform the old Blue Rock Quarry near the town of Westbrook, Maine, into a 2-million-square foot mixed use village including a temporary amphitheater, retail space, and a 25,000-square-foot beer hall. The idea, according to developer Josh Levy, is to transform the former mining site into a walkable village.
The quarry offers not just an expansive blank canvas, but also excellent transit connectivity. In addition to its location alongside I-95 and a short drive from the Portland Airport, the project also sits in the center of a 70-mile web of recreational trails that connect to surrounding rivers, as well as a still-operating rail line built in 1867 that runs between the Portland waterfront and a paper mill in nearby Westbrook. The hope is that someday, that rail line could be turned into a streetcar.
“There’s a wonderful opportunity to unite these old communities, a mill town and a sea port,” says Fred Yalouris, the design director overseeing the project team featuring architecture firm Wakefield Beasley & Associates. “The prospect of building 750 to 1,000 units of housing within such close proximity to downtown Portland is an attractive one.”
Yalouris, who served as Director of Design for the Atlanta BeltLine project and previously as the Director of Architecture and Urban Design for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, remembers the quarry from his youth. The site’s unique features present a natural landscape for the design team, including space for 26 acres of recreational sites and parks and the aforementioned amphitheater.
Situated just outside of Portland in southeast Maine, Rock Row hopes to tap into the growth of the Greater Portland region. Modeled after Avalon, a development in Alpharetta, Georgia, the quarry project has been in the works since Waterstone purchased the site in 2017. The amphitheater will open in late spring, with stores set to follow later this year. Ideally, most of the stores, apartments, and facilities will be complete by 2021.
“We want to make it work, want to make it right, and make it serve as a model for future large-scale development,” says Yalouris.