On Mar. 7, 2023, the Downs in Scarborough Maine posted to its Facebook that the first Costco location in Maine will open this year. While the shopping center did not give an exact date, the news is still exciting to many. The construction of the new Cotsco faced many delays due to planning approval after its initial announcement in Feb. 2022.
The Downs is a new 524-acre development in Southern Maine that boasts a mixed-use community. The lot includes residential space, parks, offices, and now, a Costco. The development is one of the largest mixed-use projects in New England. Housing at the Downs comes in a wide variety of options, ranging from senior citizen apartments to townhomes. Affordable housing options are available with an emphasis on making affordable housing available to people with physical disabilities.
Costco’s construction at the Downs sparked some controversy among town planners. At the Scarborough town meeting in Feb. 2023, it was unveiled that the store would be 161,000 square feet with 794 parking spaces. However, Costco’s requested parking spaces are 10 feet wide and 20 feet deep, as opposed to the typical 9 feet wide and 16-18 feet deep.
Concerns over the impact of the lot on the natural environment were raised. Larger parking spaces would result in a much larger surface area, which planners feared would lead to high levels of runoff into neighboring wetlands.
“I just see a lot of pavement in a sensitive environmental area that I’m not sure needs to be there. I’m not quite sold on that just yet,” said Scarborough Planning Board member Jennifer Ladd in Mar. 2022. This concern was echoed by the local community, who also feared the environmental impacts. Costco responded by saying that these dimensions were uniform for their 838 stores worldwide.
After working together in Sep. 2022, the Planning Board and Costco representatives reached an agreement for the store’s plans. The only unresolved concern was the issue of lighting. One planning member feared that the powerful lights Costco uses would make the parking lot look like a stadium. A Costco employee reassured the board that the lights will look fine, and they are meant to provide safety to the lot by illuminating the entire area.
Since its approval, many residents have waited with great anticipation. Costco does not comment on new developments until they are three months away from opening, and while the company has yet to make any official announcements, the Downs Facebook post is certainly hopeful. For students, this Costco will provide opportunities to stock up on the way back from break or for a weekend trip to buy in bulk.
~ Adrian Visscher `24
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