Athletic fields would remain undeveloped

Commercial building proposed for former RES site in Rockport

Mon, 03/09/2020 - 11:15am

    Allen Insurance and Financial, of Camden, has submitted a proposal to the Rockport Town Office to build a commercial building at the currently undeveloped property at the corner of Routes 1 and 90 in Rockport, where the former Rockport Elementary School (RES) once stood.

    The bid to develop the town-owned property was filed by company president J. Michael Pierce on Feb. 24.

    Pierce, on behalf of Allen Agency, Inc., was the only potential bidder to submit a development proposal to the town by an extended deadline date of Feb. 28; last month, the Rockport Select Board approved a recommendation by the RES Redevelopment Committee that the town reopen a request for proposal (RFQ) period from Jan. 14 to Feb. 28, for interested parties to submit plans for a mixed-use development on the property. 

    The Allen Agency proposal calls for erecting a 10,000- to 15,000-square-foot commercial building that would initially house employees of the insurance company, as well as staff from the Hurricane Island Outward Bound School (HIOBS) and the staff of United Midcoast Charities (UMC).

    “Additionally, our plan could create further shared workspace for self-employed individuals and/or small businesses, as well as shared common space for conference room and community use,” said Pierce. “Incorporated within the building would be space dedicated as a hub of innovation and education. Both HIOBS and UMC seek to empower others (students, educators, nonprofits) through education and innovation. We envision space dedicated to collaborative efforts between the building occupants and the community at large.”

    Although architectural renderings were not supplied in the proposal, Pierce said the envisioned layout of the site would allow for a “complimentary parking arrangement” between the community and commercial use of the site: commercial during the week, and community use on the weekends. He said the design would maintain much of the site’s green space, including the athletic field often used by for soccer.

    “We strongly feel that the existing soccer field should remain. As an employee-owned organization, we have employees and former employees whose kids and grandkids have spent (and continue to spend) countless hours on the RES soccer field and we would like to see that continue into the future. Allen would be open to owning, maintaining and managing the field as part of the agreement or potentially working with the Town to do so,” said Pierce.

    “As noted our vision also includes the potential for a platform performance pavillion for outdoor concerts, small concerts and other community use.... In summary we feel we have people with the shared vision and values of the citizens of the Town of Rockport. We would welcome the opportunity to work in collaboration with the town in developing the RES site in a manner that makes us all proud of the completed project.

    To date, the town has only received one other proposal for the site, which was filed at the town office last October by Douglas Clayton. 

    Clayton’s  plan called for  converting the property into “Rockport Crossing,” a mixed-use residential, commercial and recreational site. In a 16-page proposal received by the town in October, he described placing refurbished cabins on the property which would be marketed as senior living facilities. Other plans included a commercial business complex, a farmers’ market and a recreational area.

    The RES Redevelopment Committee meets Thursday, March 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House.