A spectacular Saco improvement is getting started

The rapid transformation of downtown Biddeford-Saco keeps making headlines in Maine and across the region, but one of the most startling changes, still yet to come, is likely to catch almost everyone by surprise.

For generations, traffic on lower Main Street in Saco has whizzed up and down York Hill with most drivers not giving a second thought to the significant piece of property that lies on the east side of the hill. That view has always been obscured --- nobody knows what’s there, because you can’t see it from the road. It’s actually several acres of valuable and beautiful waterfront land, with direct access, right at the shoreline, to deep water in the Saco River. We cleared a portion of this property this Fall, in preparation for commercial development.

Sam Zaitlin is Saco Island’s Director of Development, and he recently shot some video so that you can get a better idea of what the view is like. As he explains, Saco Island is beginning to make plans for this extremely important property, and we recognize that how we develop this land will impact the future of downtown Biddeford-Saco for generations. The question of public access is a principal consideration. Folks on both sides of the river have been working very hard to make the downtown districts “walk-able,” including Saco Island. A couple of years ago, along with our good friend Doug Sanford at the Pepperell Mill Campus, we made the private land concessions necessary to make the new River Walk Bridge a reality, the key ingredient of a successful public/private partnership.

As development plans for the east side of the island begin to coalesce, please rest assured that we’re thinking about public access. With the right combination of imagination and good planning, the east side of Saco Island will be a critical community asset, right in the heart of downtown Saco.