Tech Park plans being retooled


NORWAY – The Oxford Hills Growth Council has redrawn its plan for a proposed technology park to appeal more to businesses like architects, software companies and design agencies rather than operations like call centers.

“We were looking for a new look that would attract the market we were going after,” the council’s Marcy Boughter said Tuesday.

The new plan also reduces the buildings’ size by 52,000 square feet, to 208,000 square feet. And there will be fewer parking spots. But Boughter said the design will still accommodate the 500 workers that the council originally hoped to fill the park.

Council president Brett Doney said Wednesday that the old design was intended to attract call and data centers, but that in the past year or so that market considerably shrunk with the increased use of automated telephone systems and the Internet.

The new design, which is still based on green design principals, is more suited to entrepreneurial companies, which prefer locations where employees can communicate and cooperate with nearby businesses.

“We wanted to create more of a village atmosphere for the park,” Doney said. “The buildings are closer together, connected by boardwalks and a park.”

Because Doney said the types of companies the council is seeking desire shared facilities, the new plan also includes a small inn, restaurant and conference center.

The park will be built on a 161-acre parcel on Roberts Road, near Route 117 and overlooking Pennessewassee Lake.

Infrastructure construction will begin in September. To pay for the preliminary phase, which will be complete in 2007, the council has raised about $2.7 million – $2 million from a federal economic development grant and $700,000 from Otisfield.

Doney said the entire project is expect to be complete in 2017, which is based on a projection of economic growth for the region.

“The goal of this project is to create higher-wage opportunities to benefit Oxford Hills, and we do not have the work force (now) to be able to fill those jobs,” Doney said.

Money to pay for the rest of construction will likely come from additional grants and the sale of lots inside the park, he said. Additionally, it may be possible to raise money through the property taxes the park’s tenants pay.

This summer, the council plans to kick off a marketing campaign to lure businesses to the park. The council will seek financial help from towns, local businesses and residents to fund its marketing strategy, Doney said.