AUGUSTA — A new building with 17,600 square feet of space for small restaurants and retail stores could be added to Marketplace at Augusta.

The proposal to erect the new building, which requires a minor development permit from the city, goes to the Planning Board Tuesday.

The building would be just south of Longhorn Steakhouse and Pier 1 Imports, in the upper, or phase II, part of the retail center development. The space is part of the parking lot, and 109 parking spaces would be eliminated. The Marketplace still would contain 4,028 parking spaces, which meets the city’s parking requirement rules.

The building would be divided into several units and leased to tenants for use “as a high turnover sit-down restaurant or retail,” according to the permit application filed with the city.

Louis Masiello, vice president of development for W/S Development, the Massachusetts business that owns Marketplace at Augusta, said the space probably would be occupied by two small, lunch-type restaurants and multiple small retailers.

Masiello said the firm cannot announce what tenants might occupy the space, as negotiations are ongoing, but said the company is talking with restaurant operators, retailers, and personal-services businesses.

“We’ve been getting a fair amount of interest for space at the Marketplace by folks who’d occupy a small space, maybe 1,000 to 2,000 square feet, and there is not a lot of space to satisfy that demand,” Masiello said. “They’re the types of stores, because they’re smaller, they have a need to be more integrated with the operation of the shopping center. They want to be right in the mix of the shopping area.”

He said the smaller businesses probably wouldn’t be a good fit in the vacant former Circuit City building, nor for the buildable land next to that building in the uppermost corner of the Marketplace.

The building would be of an architectural style compatible with the existing development, application materials say.

The new single-story building would join about 753,000 square feet of existing buildings at the Marketplace at Augusta, which are primarily occupied by medium-size and large national retailers.

The site is in the city’s Civic Center Development zoning district.

Site work for the new building is estimated to cost $400,000.

Masiello said the interest in retail and restaurant space is indicative of an improving economy.

The Planning Board is scheduled to hold a public hearing and consider the project at its meeting tonight, which starts at 7 p.m. in City Council chambers at Augusta City Center.

Planners also are scheduled to review a proposal to change the zoning of the city-owned former Cony High School flatiron building, between Cony and Stone streets, and make a recommendation to the council on whether to make the change.

The site is in a contract zone created to make way for the Hannaford supermarket next door. The proposal would change the zoning around the former school to the Kennebec Business District 2 zone, which, City Manager William Bridgeo said in a letter to planners, was its previous zoning designation.

The zoning change could accommodate a developer’s plan to lease the flatiron building from the city and develop it into senior housing.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
[email protected]

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