OXFORD — Developers announced Wednesday their intention to create seven distinct business “villages” along Route 26 to capitalize on the economic stimulus generated by the Oxford Casino. 

The plan calls for the creation of clusters of businesses over 92 acres.

In an interview at his office Wednesday evening, Casalinova Development Group President Joe Casalinova sketched an outline on how developers plan to implement a 550-plus-acre “master-plan” to turn the farmland area into an economic engine. 

“The goal here is to stimulate the economy and create local jobs,” Casalinova said. 

The plan is based on a marketing and feasibility study currently in the works, he said, which evaluates potential economic capacity. 

First placement into the “villages,” as Casalinover described them, will be given to Maine businesses which compliment current clientele.

“The reason the casino is here is (Evan) Thurlow’s dream to give back to locals,” he said. Thurlow was a longtime selectman who sold farmland the casino would eventually be built on. 

Casalinova said it was too early to announce when construction could begin, or name the businesses they’re looking to attract. The clusters of businesses will primarily be across the street from the casino, though one will abut Rabbit Valley Road. 

The future site could look like something between the retail shopping centers in Freeport and Conway, N.H., with one important caveat: the unique environment of Western Maine. 

Casalinova said the clusters of businesses will be more dispersed than tightly-packed centers, with walking room between each. In addition to the retail opportunities, a host of outdoor recreational opportunities, including fly-fishing, canoe and kayak spots and hiking, will make the area unlike anything currently offered in the state, he said.

“We wanted everyone to know we were committed to this,” he said. 

In March, plans were announced to build a 91-room hotel directly across Route 26 from the casino. Groundbreaking on the project began this spring, and construction is “imminent,” Casalinova said.

Last December, selectmen signed a credit enhancement agreement with Thurlow Family LLC, which comprises the pool of farmland eyed for development, to retain some of the property taxes generated through development.

The proposed sites have barns and a farmhouse owned by Suzanne Hall, which are expected to be demolished.

The group has until April 1, 2015, to improve the value of the land by $10 million or the town will not be obligated to reimburse them for infrastructure improvements. 

An informational meeting seeking public comment on the environmental impact of the project will be held at 8 a.m. Friday, Aug. 29, in Crestholm Farm’s parking lot at 167 Main St.

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