ROCKLAND — The Rockland Planning board found the application complete for a proposal to convert a historic Main Street building into a center for community events.

A formal public hearing and possible final vote is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17 for the 500 Main St. project.

The Planning Board reviewed the application for 500 Main St. at the Board’s Tuesday, Dec. 6 meeting.

The plan calls for two levels of retail space, two levels of restaurant space, three apartments (two studio and one one-bedroom), and a large assembly venue in the former church. The retail and restaurant spaces will be leased out to businesses.

The events center venue will be for weddings and large gatherings, dances and musical performances. An accessory space to the events center will include a bar and catering kitchen.

There will be two additions to the building, a 900-square-foot addition on the Summer Street side and a 300-square-foot addition on the Main Street side. An elevator will be added to the building.

The developers are Robert Arena and Valerie Landsburg under the corporate name NE2, LLC, who bought the property in April. Arena owns property across the street where Fiore Artisan Olive Oils and Vinegars is located. Landsburg had attempted in 2019 to develop the former Bicknell Manufacturing Plant on Lime Street until DuPont bought the property.

The Planning Board will conduct a site visit at 3:15 p.m. Jan. 17 followed by a public hearing that evening at 5:15 p.m. at City Hall. The heat and sprinkler systems are expected to be turned on by that time.

Planning Board Chair Erik Laustsen said he liked what was being proposed and that it would be much better than what had last been in the building — a marijuana store.

The formal application filed Nov. 22 stated that the development could attract an additional 225 vehicles but the average would be 136 and that would largely occur during off-peak hours.

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.

The Rockland Planning Board at the Dec. 6 meeting. Photo by Stephen Betts

500 Main St. in Rockland.  Photo by Stephen Betts