Plans for a major expansion at the Mystique Way Cannabis Park in Auburn submitted to the planning board.

AUBURN — New cannabis greenhouses, a new restaurant with drive-thru and four new duplexes were all cleared for development by the Planning Board on Tuesday night in a banner, nearly four-hour session.

“A $40 million to $60 million construction value year is a good year (for a municipality),” Eric Cousens, deputy director of economic and community development, said. “Last night, I’m being conservative, but we approved at least $15 million worth of new value, maybe closer to $20 million.

“We also preserved an investment path for the Kmart building,” he added. “It’s a $5 million-plus asset that will now be improved and kept on the tax rolls.”

Among the projects:

• A new four-duplex subdivision on Delly Drive, near Hotel and Stevens Mill roads. Cousens estimated the value at $600,000 to $1 million once built out.

The project is by developer Paul Hollis of RF1 Properties, who has previously worked mostly in southern Maine and New Hampshire.

“I get the sense we’ll see one or two of them this year and then potentially another two before next spring,” Cousens said.

• U-Haul Moving and Storage’s plans were approved for 603 Center St., converting the former Kmart into 94,000 square feet of self-storage units with retail truck and trailer rental space.

AMERCO Real Estate Co., a real estate subsidiary of U-Haul, plans to hang onto its current spot just up the road, Cousens said.

“Their business has outgrown that space but they like the visibility of it,” he said. “They’re going to keep it as an office and they’ll move most of their operations to the Kmart building.”

The company plans to be in by fall.

• Pythia, LLC’s Auburn Marketplace proposal for 1777 Washington St., turning the former Fireside Inn restaurant into four new spaces, moved a step closer to fruition.

“The one thing that’s still a question is traffic and we’re working with the state to get them the traffic movement permit that they need; our approval is only valid once they obtain that,” Cousens said.

The $200,000 project would divide the 5,450-square-foot restaurant space into a fast-food space, a sandwich shop or other retail and two spaces for a hotel lobby. Cousens said developers indicated they don’t have a tenant lined up yet for the fast-food space.

• Lastly the board approved 14 new buildings, most of them greenhouses, for the Mystique Way Cannabis Park off Minot Avenue.

The Auburn Planning Board this week approved 14 more buildings, most of them greenhouses similar to these, for the Mystique Way Cannabis Park off Minot Avenue. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo Buy this Photo

The $1.2 million in costs listed on Mystique Way LLC‘s permit application only reflects the cost of the extended road and new utilities, Cousens said.

The total investment won’t be clear until each of the 14 building permits are taken out, he said, however, “we’ve been told that they’ll be similar quality, similar style (to the four greenhouses already in place) and those are in the $1 million to $1.5 million per-building range. A couple of the smaller ones might be $700,000 or so.”

“They’ve been very cooperative,” Cousens said. “They’ve been very attentive to dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s and to controlling odors.”

The buildings will largely be for cultivation with some manufacturing and processing.

Sean O’Brien, one of Mystique Way LLC’s four partners, told the board that they plan to have only the single retail store on the site, Mystique of Maine, which is under construction.

Project representative Jeff Amos, an engineer with Terradyn Consultants, said the plans likely max out the use of the site’s 32 acres.

“The stormwater flows limit the development to pretty much what’s shown,” Amos told the board. “There is not really room to add anything more to this.”


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