ROCKLAND — The Rockland Planning Board will have its first look at an ambitious proposal to develop a historic Main Street building into a center for community events.

The Planning Board is expected to review the proposal for 500 Main St. at either its Sept. 20 or Oct. 4 meeting.

The owners plan to convert the former church into a mixed-used building with retail shops, a two-story restaurant, a couple apartments and a place for performing arts, music and community events.

Robert Arena and Valerie Landsburg, through their company NE2 LLC, purchased 500 Main St. from Jeremiah Pasternak April 22. Arena also owns the commercial building across the street at 497-501 Main St.

After the purchase, Landsburg said she and Arena want to make the North End of Main Street have its own personality. The events center would be part of that.

The historic building is the former First Baptist Church, built in 1836 before Rockland was incorporated. The building has undergone numerous renovations and additions over the nearly 200 years, including the brick and steel renovations around 1959. Most recently, Scrimshaw Cannabis leased space in the building.

Arena said back in April he and Landsburg plan to make the building “jaw droppingly beautiful.” He said they will be working with Paul Benjamin to bring acts to the center. He said there was a clock tower on the church long ago which blew over in a storm. He said if the tower still exists, it may be restored and placed on the building.

The process of renovating the building is expected to take two years.

The first meeting with the Planning Board will be considered a “pre-application” meeting. No action will be taken at the meeting.

The Summer Street side of 500 Main St. Stephen Betts

Drawings of the former First Baptist Church over the past nearly 200 years. Source: Valerie Landsburg