Developers of the proposed Falmouth Center, a massive multipurpose development along Route 1 in Falmouth, have returned with an updated proposal after running up against neighborhood opposition last summer.

The Falmouth Town Council is scheduled to meet Thursday morning to continue discussing the proposal, which asks for revised zoning of the parcel where the complex would be built. The meeting will not include a public hearing or council vote.

The project, at the site of the existing Falmouth Shopping Center, would involve an ambitious expansion to create a huge mixed-use development with senior housing, dining and entertainment venues, indoor and outdoor recreation, a hotel and other uses. It would include 21 new buildings encompassing over 1 million square feet of indoor floor space. The development plan includes adjacent land now owned by the Maine Department of Transportation that is occupied by the Maine Turnpike’s Falmouth Spur ramps to Route 1. The developer would pay reconfiguring the spur.

When developers Joseph Soley and Jonathan Cohen announced their project in May, they described it as encompassing sports and fitness facilities, walking trails, restaurants featuring outside dining, brew pubs, entertainment venues, small retail stores, office and medical space, a pet-friendly atmosphere, a village green, hotels and housing for ages 55 and over. As residents of Falmouth for more than 20 years, they said they wanted to build a project “in a way that incorporates many of the town’s goals and plans for development around the U.S. Route 1 corridor,” according to a statement.

When the Falmouth Center proposal was first publicized, local residents raised a number of concerns including light and noise pollution, traffic congestion and environmental impacts. Many residents said they weren’t opposed to redevelopment in general, but that they objected to the developers’ request to rezone the property to a more intensive use.

The zoning variance would loosen certain restrictions on the parcel’s zoning, such as:

Allowing a proposed indoor sports center of up to 70,000 square feet, provided that the building is set back at least 600 feet from Route 1.

Allowing outdoor sports activity from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., provided that field lighting is shut off within 15 minutes of the end of field use. The number of outdoor fields would be limited to two, and bleacher seating and public address systems would be prohibited.

Allowing light poles associated with the outdoor fields to be up to 80 feet tall, subject to certain performance standards.

The developers also are requesting tax incentives in the form of tax increment financing – a rebate on property taxes generated by the redeveloped property’s increased value – worth $2.5 million.

In March, Soley, the patriarch of a Portland real estate empire, and Cohen, president of Architectural Doors and Windows in Westbrook, bought the Falmouth Shopping Center, according to a mortgage filed with the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds. Cohen also is building a new downtown Portland headquarters for payment-processing company Wex Inc. on land he bought from the city for $3.3 million in August 2017.

The Falmouth strip mall, which has had vacant storefronts for years, sold for $21 million, according to NKF Capital Markets, the firm that orchestrated the sale. Soley and Cohen each own half of the property, according to a deed signed on March 23.

The property includes the existing strip mall, roughly 18 acres of undeveloped, buildable land and 3 acres of wetlands. Commercial real estate brokers have called the parcel a “gold mine” prime for redevelopment.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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