Lime Street project would include retail, offices, residences

Plan unveiled for major Rockland mixed-use development

By Stephen Betts | Mar 26, 2019
A graphic of the conceptual design for the potential development at and around the former Bicknell Manufacturing building was part of a presentation to the Rockland City Council March 25.

Rockland — A Rockland woman unveiled a plan Monday night, March 25, to renovate the former Bicknell manufacturing building and construct a series of buildings around the site that would be used for retail shops, offices and residences.

Valerie Landsburg said she wanted to work with the community on the projects, which would include public space at the Lime Street development.

"This is a great way to bring together Main Street and the waterfront," Landsburg told the Rockland City Council.

The current draft of the project calls for renovating and expanding the current Bicknell building, two new four-story buildings and a smaller two-story building on the northeast side of the building.

The project would reflect the history of Rockland, Landsburg said, being built of masonry rather than wood. She said she wanted to have the buildings facing Tillson Avenue patterned after the Crockett building, which had been the home of Jordan's Market on Main Street, where Claws restaurant is now located. The Crockett building was destroyed by fire in December 1994.

The development could begin this summer, while the entire project conceivably could be completed in five years, she said. Landsburg wants a restaurant built early in the process.

She said she had been coming to Rockland since she was a child in 1963; her parents moved to Rockland 29 years ago, and she moved to the city in 2013.

She said she plans to live in Rockland the rest of her life and wants a development that the public will enjoy. The project would be similar to ones around the world from London to Chicago, where mixed-use facilities are created from former industrial buildings no longer suited for their original use.

There will be parking on site so as not to use the limited parking in the downtown, she said. In addition, she will not flood the market with new office and retail space, but build as the buildings become occupied.

City councilors praised the project.

"This is a great plan. This could bring the development to Tillson Avenue that we want," Councilor Ed Glaser said.

Councilor Valli Geiger agreed. "This whole area has been waiting for a long time."

Geiger particularly praised the plan to preserve the Bicknell building. Landsburg said she wanted to make that an event space.

The former Bicknell property is zoned waterfront, which allows for a wide range of commercial and industrial activities. Dwellings are not allowed.

The City Council would have to amend the waterfront zone where the property is located to allow for residences to be located there.

Councilor Ben Dorr said he would like to see the project involve some affordable housing.

Glaser responded that not every single project has to include affordable housing. He said housing here could relieve pressure on the market for existing homes.

The property is owned by Rockland Granite Co. LLC, whose principal member is Finlay Matheson of Miami, Fla. The company has owned the property since January 2004, when it purchased the former plant and adjoining property for $450,000.

Landsburg said she had investors, who were not named, who support the project.

Bicknell was founded in 1890 to serve the granite industry. For more than 100 years, it manufactured drill bits, and later pneumatic tools for the construction industry. The business was sold in 1996 to competitor Tamco Manufacturing, which closed the plant in October 1998.

Landsburg is an actor, director and writer, according to her biography on the website of the Maine Media Workshops + College, where she teaches.

"Although she has a large body of work, with four decades in film, television and on stage, she is best known for playing Doris Schwartz on the hit television series 'Fame.' She recently completed directing a new feature, 'Love & Debt,' with Tom Cavanagh, Bellamy Young and Bailee Madison that is scheduled for release in 2019. Her other directing credits include the action-thriller 'Bound by Lies,' starring Stephen Baldwin and Kristy Swanson, and 'Trixie’s Score,'" according to the website.

Other acting credits include "Nip/Tuck," "The Unit," "Columbo," "Empty Nest," "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Murder, She Wrote." On Broadway she acted in Neil Simon’s "I Ought to Be in Pictures," and appeared off-Broadway in "Surviving Grace" and Woody Allen’s "The Floating Light Bulb." A longtime improviser, she has frequently performed at the Groundlings Theater, according to the biography.

As a writer, she created "An Unexpected Gift" for The Hallmark Channel, "Norweigian Wood," a teen comedy for Kinetic Arts, "Belters" for Profile Films America, and "The Money Shot," the latter optioned by Lion’s Gate Television.

She travels extensively, teaching at colleges and universities, as well as conducting her own workshops for actors, writers and directors. In addition to teaching at Maine Media Workshops + College, she is an adjunct faculty member at UCLA, and guest lectures at multiple institutions. She created a master class for Euro Disney and is part of the international faculty of The Asian Academy of Film and Television in New Delhi, India.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Mar 26, 2019 16:44

Great resume! We do bring out the artistic here in Maine. And are better for it. Hopefully the parking problem will be solved without being termed "Bit Citified". Walking for residents who live a few blocks would be good for their health. thus leaving parking spots. "Good neighbors" make for a good community.

 



Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Mar 26, 2019 15:44

We may be able to rub elbows with Camdenites after all. Go figure!



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Mar 26, 2019 12:19

Things are happening in Rockland that can only occur through collaboration and teamwork. Kudos to our city council for creating an atmosphere conducive to things like this; and Habitat For Humanity; even considering us for their projects.



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