As soon as 2010, traveling to Boston could be as easy as crossing Maine Street and hopping on a train.
On Tuesday, Governor Baldacci joined members of the Brunswick community and others for the official groundbreaking ceremony of Maine Street Station. Even in spite of the dire state of the economy, construction for the $25 million development is scheduled to begin next week.
"We are getting back to basics in our economy," Baldacci said in his address at the ceremony. "This makes sense, we're going to make sure the resources are there to support it."
Plans for the five-building development, which is scheduled to open in July 2009, include spaces for retail, an inn, offices, condominiums, and a train station.
Bowdoin has signed to lease two spaces in Maine Street Station. According to Mike Lyne, project manager, Bowdoin's agreement to be a tenant is "significant."
"Bowdoin also generates activity," Lyne said. "If people see that Bowdoin is a part of the project, we think that it will attract others as well."
Bill Torrey, senior vice president for planning and development and secretary of the College, said Bowdoin has "agreed to take the first floor of Building 1, and we agreed to take the second floor of one of the other buildings."
Torrey said that plans for how the space will be used have not been finalized but possibilities include additional dance studios, IT offices, and a Bowdoin bookstore.
The 5-acre site for the development is located between Noble Street and Hannaford. Bowdoin's McLellan Building is located on a corner of the lot.
"We've been involved with the project since we bought all of this property with the town 12 years ago," Torrey said.
According to Torrey, Bowdoin conveyed its share of the lot to the town, except for the site of the McLellan Building. He said that Bowdoin has not invested in the development beyond the property conveyance and agreement to be a tenant.
The developer for the project, J. Hilary Rockett, Jr., is a member of Bowdoin Class of 1986. He said that Bowdoin has been involved with the project since its inception.
"I really thank Barry [Mills] and Bowdoin College for their support," Rockett said during his address at the ceremony.
According to Rockett, phase one of the project will include Buildings 1, 3, and 4, which are to be used for retail, office spaces, and a train station.
"We're going to spend this winter finalizing [plans for the condominiums and the inn]," Rockett said.
In his address at the ceremony, Chair of the Brunswick Downtown Association Rob Jarratt, a member of the Class of 1964, described the gap between Bowdoin and the rest of downtown Brunswick as "an embarrassment."
"[Maine Street Station is] a bridge from Bowdoin College to the rest of the downtown, and its been a long time coming," Jarratt said.
According to Patricia Quinn, the executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) who spoke at the ceremony, NNEPRA has filed an application to the Federal Railroad Administration and aims to have the Amtrak Downeaster arrive by 2010.
Although Senator Susan Collins, Senator Olympia Snowe, and Representative Tom Allen were not present at the ceremony, each wrote a letter which was read aloud by representatives from their offices. Each letter expressed the significant impact that the development will have on downtown Brunswick.
"The Maine Street Station will be an extremely public-private partnership that will dramatically reshape the downtown," Allen wrote.
Allen also expressed in his letter that with the pending closure of the Brunswick Naval Air Station, this development is exactly what Brunswick needs.