Massive retail expansion could harm Maine’s economy

by Stacy Mitchell, Maine Sunday Telegram, Jan. 11, 2004

Developers have announced plans to construct well over 2 million square feet of large retail stores in Maine over the coming months.

Wal-Mart is planning a supercenter in Westbrook and perhaps another in Topsham. Lowe’s building supply is aiming at Brunswick. A 460,000-square-foot project, including Lowe’s and Target, is slated for Biddeford.

Home Depot has a site in Topsham. More than 900,000 square feet of retail is planned for Augusta, including a Lowe’s superstore and an expansion of The Marketplace that will house Best Buy, Kohl’s and others. And with the defeat of two zoning ordinance amendments in Kennebunk, that town may soon have a Stop & Shop supermarket.

All of this growth will leave Maine more like the rest of the country: overrun by the same sprawling box stores and a growing traffic problem. We’ll lose more open space and our downtowns and homegrown businesses will suffer.

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