WESTBROOK — The low-priced grocer will be the anchor tenant of a yet-to-be-built retail plaza at the former Pike Industries quarry on Main Street, the developer confirmed Thursday. A Walmart store, which was previously announced for that spot, is no longer part of the project.
“I was able to negotiate to replace the Walmart Supercenter with Market Basket,” said Anton Melchionda, principal at Watersone Properties. “We have a history with Market Basket. We’re biased, but we believe strongly that they are the premier grocery operator in the country, if not the world.”
The grocery store chain operates stores across New England, but this will be only the second Market Basket in Maine. The first opened in Biddeford in 2013 and has been a hit among shoppers there. That strong customer response prompted Market Basket to consider building more stores in Maine. Early on, it was one of the rumored tenants at the Westbrook plaza. But a feud among Market Basket’s owners in 2014 delayed those plans, and the Walmart store was announced in April 2016.
The Westbrook Planning Board approved the 500,000-square-foot shopping center in October 2016. The original developer, Jeffrey Gove, sold the project to Waterstone last year. Melchionda said his company will ultimately invest more than $150 million in the plaza.
No other tenants are confirmed at this time, Melchionda said. But he expects the announcement of Market Basket to be a positive for prospective local and national tenants.
“I can tell you we’re in conversation with over 100 national tenants,” he said, as well as Maine-based businesses and restaurants.
Melchionda, who lives in Boston and Scarborough, said his family shops at Market Basket in Massachusetts.
“We drive 18 to 20 minutes, and we pass six grocery stores so that we can shop at Market Basket,” he said.
Westbrook City Administrator Jerre Bryant said Market Basket is the type of retailer he hoped would come into that development.
“What we were hoping for were retailers that were not currently in Maine or that were underrepresented in Maine,” Bryant said. “That makes it more attractive and special. Certainly this fits that criteria.”
Market Basket opened its first Maine in Biddeford in 2013. It now plans a second location in Westbrook. (Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald file photo)