March 23, 2009 | last updated May 26, 2012 7:06 am

Redevelopment Of Elmcrest Site Draws Near

Cumberland Farms' Farmington store has the next-generation floor plan.

The town of Portland has for years waited for someone to come along with a plan to redevelop the former Elmcrest Hospital site. It is now closer than ever to seeing that happen.

The owners of the 14.9-acre site on Route 66-Marlborough Road, near Main Street-Route 17, and a Rhode Island developer plan to transform Elmcrest into a $40 million to $50 million mixed-use development called Portland TownPlace.

Plans are to demolish the hospital's buildings, along with some houses along nearby Perry Avenue, and replace them with 149,000 square feet of commercial and office space and 82 units of housing, town officials say.

"The concept is people working and shopping where they live,'' said Portland First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield. "It's sort of a mini-Blue Back Square.''

The town has set a May 7 public hearing on plans submitted by a development partnership consisting of developer Anthony Fonda, of Watch Hill, R.I., and Elmcrest's property owners, including Perry Portland Associates LLC, one of Portland's largest taxpayers.

Ralph Wilson, a Middletown attorney working with Fonda on Portland TownPlace, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Officials for Perry Portland Associates could not be immediately reached.

Larry McHugh, president of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce, said Fonda is an active developer who isn't deterred by the current economy.

"He continues to move forward,'' McHugh said. "He's done a lot of projects.''

One of Fonda's projects, he said, is development of a Walgreen's on Saybrook Road in Middletown.

Portland Planning Administrator Deanna Rhodes said the developer's building and landscape designers and structural and traffic engineers are working to ensure the project's scheme meets the town's specifications.

"Everybody's in the busy-bee stage reviewing things,'' Rhodes said. "For Portland, it's a huge project.''

According to blueprints, TownPlace would largely be built in two phases. The first and largest phase would include commercial and residential space.

Walgreen's so far is the development's only named tenant, to occupy a 14,820-square-foot building, Rhodes said. Plans also call for a 65,000-square-foot grocery, a 5,000-square-foot restaurant with outdoor seating, and a bank building.

The remainder of the development would be configured with retail-office space on the ground floor and 31 units of townhomes and apartments above, Rhodes said.

In the second phase, a six-story residential tower would be erected, with 51 units of possibly condominiums or apartments, she said.

Cumberland Farms' Redesign

Cumberland Farms' newest convenience store in Farmington marks the debut of the Massachusetts chain's next-generation floor plan.

The store at 352 Scott Swamp Road features a layout that exposes more merchandise to customers and aisles that are easier to navigate.

Cumberland Farms will feature its updated layout in another store opening in Deep River later this month.

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Greg Seay is the Hartford Business Journal Web editor.

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