Despite the closing of the Brunswick Naval Air Station (BNAS) in 2011 and mounting evidence of a national economic slowdown, work on a multi-million dollar development project adjacent to college property presses forward.

Construction on the $24 million, 170,000 sq. ft. project, known as Maine Street Station, is scheduled to begin this year, according to Project Manager Michael Lyne.

Lyne, a member of the Class of 1986, said that his development firm, JHR Development (managed by J. Hilary Rocket '86), hopes to complete the project by 2010.

?Once [the plans] are approved by the [Brunswick] Planning Board, we have two years to complete the project,? Lyne said. ?The spring of 2010 would be our hope.?

The plan for the parcel of land, wedged between Hannaford Supermarket and Union, Noble and Maine Streets, includes a hotel, office and retail space, a small park, condominiums, a train station, and a parking lot.

Matthew Eddy, Brunswick?s director of economic development, said he believes that the project will be successful, despite recent concerns of an economic recession. Eddy pointed to the current economic climate of downtown Brunswick as evidence of the project?s future success.

?The economy is a little bit rough right now, but the economy in the downtown is actually pretty strong,? Eddy said.

Lyne said that the most important factor toward a successful Maine Street Station is ?attracting strong, viable tenants who meet a needed market demand.? Lyne said he hopes to draw retailers to the project ?similar to those that operate in the Old Port? in Portland, while trying to avoid national chains.

Lyne also said the project hopes to cater to the broad tastes of local residents and visitors.

?We hope to attract everyone from Bowdoin students to soccer moms [to] retirees to the summer crowds,? Lyne said.

?We play on a theme here of Brunswick being a community for all ages,? Eddy said. ?We are fairly diverse as a community, and even with the Naval base closing, our diversity is still pretty broad-based.?

According to Lyne, JHR is on pace to pre-lease 15,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. of the project space by this summer.

The College has not pre-leased space in Maine Street Station, and according to Senior Vice President for Administration and Planning Bill Torrey, a final decision whether to lease space will be made ?sometime this spring.?

Torrey said that the long-term success of the project is important to Bowdoin.

?The College has a vested interest in seeing that parcel develop,? he said.

In addition to the $24 million for the private sector development, the Town of Brunswick has also pledged funds toward the project, including an allotment for the clean-up of coal ash on the site. The town is also in charge of infrastructure projects.

?[The town] is responsible for the coal ash remediation and introduction of all public infrastructure, including a road through the site, sidewalks, the park, street amenities, and lighting,? said Eddy.

Margo Knight, a town councilor whose constituents include those surrounding the Maine Street Station project, said that the 2005 decision to close BNAS actually motivated the town to go forward more vigorously with the project.

?We can?t wait until the base closes to say, ?oh, we need a more vibrant downtown,?? Knight said.

Eddy said the cost to the Town of Brunswick will range from $2.2 million?the ?bare minimum needed to complete the cornerstones of the project??to $3.3 million.

According to Eddy, how much the town puts toward the project is contingent upon grant money the town receives. Brunswick has already received a $1 million Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant for the coal ash remediation.