Shawn Moody, founder of Moody’s Collision Centers and a Gorham native, said he intends to unveil plans for the site in the next few weeks, after the company undertakes a cleanup of the property. In an interview with the Portland Press Herald, Moody said he is excited to share his vision for the Gorham location and framed his company’s purchase in terms of its larger responsibility to its employee investors.
“That’s really become a big part of my job,” Moody said. “To make sure our coworkers are supported and we provide the best investment opportunities for our company’s future.”
Moody said the purchase is part of a broader effort to expand and diversify the company’s holdings as it approaches its 40th year in business. Moody’s 150 employees, called coworker owners internally, own a 34 percent stake in the business.
The company paid $1.2 million for the former racetrack. It owns a Moody’s Collision and Auto Body Repair Center just up the road from the new site.
Gorham town officials say they are grateful that the land, known locally as The Fairgrounds, will be developed after sitting on the market for three years.
“We’ve wanted to develop that part of town and particularly that property for some time,” said Thomas Ellsworth, president of the Gorham Economic Development Corp. “We’re very pleased to have a local business owner, somebody of Shawn’s caliber, as the purchaser.”
Moody started his network of collision repair centers while he was a senior at Gorham High School. Today, there are nine centers, and Moody serves on a number of boards, including the trustees of the Maine Community College System and the University of Maine System.
In September, the Gorham Town Council adopted a revised 10-year comprehensive plan for the town. Under that plan, which has been submitted to the state for review, the Fairgrounds purchase would make up part of a larger vision for integrated mixed-use development in the area. Over the next decade, officials say, they hope to see multi-family residences built alongside offices, manufacturing and recreational facilities as well as hotels and restaurants.
“In the big picture, we’re looking for tax base expansion, which means development and job creation,” Ellsworth said. “So our preference is on the commercial side.”
The former racetrack is on Narragansett Street and Route 112, across town from Gorham’s other business and industrial parks and over a mile from the main business district. Charlie Craig of NAI The Dunham Group, who represented Hannaford in the sale, says a recently constructed bypass around the town of Gorham has helped improve access to the site and opened the area to new development.
“It’s much easier to get there now,” Craig said. “You no longer have to weave through downtown Gorham.”
Hannaford originally purchased the property after the company was unable to find space to expand its downtown Gorham location. The supermarket chain ran water and sewer lines to the parcel before successfully securing land next to its existing store. Hannaford is one of the largest employers in the Gorham area with 150 employees.
The future for development in Gorham appears bright. Located less than a half hour from Portland, the town is one of the fastest-growing in Maine, surpassing Waterville in the 2010 Census to become the 15th-largest municipality in the state.
We would like to thank The Portland Press Herald for reprint permission.