SOUTH PORTLAND – The owners of the Maine Mall are proposing a complex of retail stores and restaurants on a vacant lot on the west side of Maine Mall Road.

Plans for the estimated $7.8 million project indicate that a Barnes & Noble bookstore will be the anchor tenant for the complex, which is also expected to house two restaurants and three retail stores.

General Growth Properties has submitted plans to the city calling for a 42,000-square-foot development on nearly 6 acres that were previously going to be used for a new Best Buy store.

The site, which has 480 feet of frontage on Maine Mall Road, previously was home to Pizza Hut, International House of Pancakes and a cinema, before those buildings were razed.

The project, called Maine Mall Commons, will go before the Planning Board on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

General Growth continued to delay a planned revitalization project that would have brought a movie megaplex and four additional restaurants to the Maine Mall.

The company is engaged in a court battle with Joseph Soley, who is contesting a shared parking arrangement approved by the city to allow the project to move forward. Soley, who owns nearby shopping centers, argues the arrangement would hurt his business.

Details of the $7.8 million Maine Mall Commons project emerged after questions were raised about the possibility that General Growth may have to sell off some of its properties, possibly even the Maine Mall, because of the national economic situation.

Mall management did not return calls for comment.

According to Planning Department documents, Barnes & Noble is expected to occupy a two-level store in Maine Mall Commons, with about 36,000 square feet of floor space.

Although no other tenants were identified, the plans call for a restaurant at each end of the development, one with about 270 seats and the other with about 135 seats. Three other retail spaces are planned, with parking for 334 cars.

Community Planner Steve Puleo said the company planned to spend more than $1 million for storm water systems for the development, which is located in the Long Creek watershed – an urban impaired stream that business leaders, city officials and environmentalists are trying to clean up.


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