OXFORD — A plan to develop about 10 acres on Route 26, across the street from the Oxford Casino, into a multi-tenant building with a mix of retail and service business venues has emerged.
Site work could begin as early as next month.
Joe Casalinova of Building Solutions LLC told the Advertiser Democrat that a 2014 plan by Casalinova and land owner Thurlow Family LLC, to develop about 100 of those acres into a mix of hotels, retail, service industries, entertainment and other venues in a multi-village format, have been reconfigured and reduced.
The new plan is a scaled-down version of the original plan submitted to the Planning Board in 2014.
“I’ve downsized the business-development plans,” said Casalinova, who bought the 10-acre site, directly across from Oxford Casino and south of the Hampton Inn, from the Thurlow Family LLC late last year.
Patrick Casalinova of KW Commercial, the commercial real estate arm of Keller Williams Realty Inc. brokered the new deal. He said Joe Casalinova and the Thurlow Family partnered in 2014 to do the pre-approvals with the state and then, in 2016, when the pre-approvals were received, the partnership contracted with KW Commercial to market and sell the entire 100 plus acres.
“During the course of that marketing after a couple interested parties walked away, Joe made an offer to purchase approximately 10 acres which I (KW Commercial) brokered the deal. The deal closed the first week in January 2018,” he said in an email Tuesday to the Advertiser Democrat.
“Our efforts are not dead, just adjusted. We have turned a partnership into a purchase agreement. We’re all excited,” Patrick Casalinova said of the revised plan to develop the smaller parcel of land.
The larger parcel is being marketed by another agent for KW Commercial. The remaining land that comprised the original 400-500 acres is not developable or under conservation easement, said Casalinova.
Although the long-rumored siting of the Portland area-based Jimmy the Greek’s Restaurant will not be in the mix, the current plan is will house a café on a smaller scale.
The café, still unnamed, will seat as many as 50 people and have an entertainment area, according to Patrick Casalinova. He described the entertainment venue as hosting a featured show, such as a comedian or musician, some nights then be open to tenant specific events or locally sponsored events on other nights.
Patrick Casalinova said part of the vision is to entice people who may be spending time at the Oxford Casino to come across the street for lunch, and perhaps spend time at a day spa or other venues in the proposed building.
Talks are now ongoing with various businesses who may open up in the proposed building and construction could start as early as February, Patrick Casalinova said.
Patrick Casalinova said he believes the plan will not need to go back to the Planning Board for approval because it conforms to the original approved site plan application. A building permit will need to be issued before construction can start.
In December 2014, Joe Casalinova and Brian O’Donnell, vice president of Building Solutions LLC, met with the Oxford Planning Board to share plans for a mixed-use retail center. The center was planned for a 100-acre parcel and already included plans for the Hampton Inn on a four-acre lot that was sold to the GIRI Group by the Thurlow Family LLC. Building Solutions designed and engineered the project.
At that time, Joe Casalinova, along with the Thurlow Family LLC, was proposing more than $40 million in development on the rest of the 100 acres.
The plan included Jimmy the Greek’s Restaurant, and other businesses such as convenience stores and gas station companies, local businesses and others in the service industry to create a family-friendly retail and recreational space.
“We did get close,” Joe Casalinova said recently of those efforts to develop the entire property. An agreement with Jimmy the Greek Restaurant was viable for many months.
But when a number of factors, including construction problems at the Hampton Inn, “extraordinary”site development costs, the potential for a second “southern Maine” casino and other factors arose, he said the plans for the restaurant eventually fell through.
“The potential for the second southern Maine casino just added to the stress for the buyer“ Joe Casalinova said.
Even though Maine voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal for a third casino (and second to be located in southern Maine) last November, there were still outstanding issues, including neighboring Hampton Inn’s longstanding legal issues with contractors, he said.
“It created a lot of challenges and issues that really spilled over to the adjacent lands,” he said. “It took a while to work that out.”
A drawing depicts a building for retail and service businesses planned next to the Hampton Inn on Route 26 in Oxford. (Submitted by Building Solutions LLC)