The exciting new Stevens Square Community Center is underway. Housed in the 50,000 square foot former Maine Girls' Academy (previously Catherine McAuley High School), it's a cornerstone of the Stevens Square campus. Read on below to learn all about it and stay tuned to this news feed for updates as its various components come to life.
Just Steps Away
As it is developed, it will add fitness, health and wellness, entertainment, dining, educational, social and other lifestyle opportunities in Deering Center and for the greater Stevens Square campus communities of Stevens Square at Baxter Woods and the Motherhouse.
Stevens Square Community Center Lifestyle Amenities
Fitness Center and Indoor Pool
A former music room and lobby will be transformed into a fitness center including new cardio and weight rooms and lounge areas. The existing swimming pool will be fully restored.
This complex will also host wellness-centered businesses providing services like personal training, yoga and massage. A partnership is planned with an established business called Health Coaches Inc. that offers "comprehensive personalized health and wellness programs" designed to "preserve and optimize your health."
Auditorium and Educational Opportunities
The 480-seat Stevens Square Community Center Auditorium can host theater groups, local concerts and musical arts, and a wide range of community events.
The University of New England (UNE) is just up the street from Stevens Square. Its Center for Excellence in Aging and Health "invites adults aged 55 and older to join with its students, faculty, and staff in shared scholarship and service" as part of their Legacy Scholars Program.
It recently partnered with Greater Portland Landmarks for a presentation in the Auditorium about history of Deering Center and The Motherhouse, the historic centerpiece of the Stevens Square Campus.
Read more about UNE's Legacy Scholars Program here.
While they will live in a modern Stevens Square at Baxter Woods condominium, Elizabeth and Larry Estey have a keen interest in a lifestyle enhanced by The Motherhouse and the Stevens Square Community Center Auditorium. Elizabeth is a historic archivist by trade and Larry envisions starting a resident community theater group.
A New Stevens Square Community Center Cafe with a Long History
The central point of the Stevens Square Community Center is The Atrium which serves as a lobby and will be seating for a cafe. The proposed concept is that of a modern hotel lobby which can feel private enough but also flow with gradual transitions...a place you feel comfortable eating your breakfast at a lounge soft chair and you feel comfortable working on your laptop at the breakfast area.
As the concept is developed, the plan is to emphasize the indoor-outdoor connection between the lobby/atrium, courtyard, the pool and an adjacent outdoor terrace with possible fire and water elements.
Julie Taliento Walsh has a long history in food service in Portland and at this very venue. She currently runs a cafe and catering business in Portland's Bayside neighborhood called Tally's Kitchen. The cafe at the Community Center would be a second location.
Julie's great grandparents moved to Maine from New York City in the early 1900s and her relatives have been in the food service business for several generations. Her father owned the former Federal Foods grocery stores in Portland.
Julie and her four sisters attended McAuley High School at this very site and she later owned a cafe in the school called the Lion's Den. She looks forward to serving her fresh, reasonably priced food in the comfortable community atmosphere while catering events in the Auditorium and for Stevens Square at Baxter Woods Homeowners.
Julie prides herself on sourcing local produce, which might just be easier here with a farmers market on site!
The Stevens Square Community Center Gymnasium
The Portland Winter Indoor Farmers' Market takes place in the Stevens Square Community Center Gymnasium every Saturday from December through April.
Community and Intergenerational Connection
Stevens Square at Baxter Woods is a 55 Plus Active Adult community with a unique sense of community among its homeowners. But it is also a part of the greater community and not apart from it.
The Gymnasium hosts Blue Wave Basketball. Blue Wave organizes year round programs and teams for boys and girls with the belief that "kids will reach their playing potential when their desire for success is coupled with sound instruction of basic fundamentals in a positive learning environment."
A great chance to watch some fun games in your community!
The first floor classrooms on the opposite side of the Atrium from the Health and Wellness Center, Auditorium and Gymnasium will house the well established Growing Learners Child Care.
Just as Stevens Square is creating a sense of community, Growing Learners strives "to create a community amongst our staff and families."
A great place for grandkids!
Blue Wave and Growing Learners offer an infusion of youthful energy. Meanwhile, the Deering Center area surrounding the Stevens Square Campus offers a vibrant, walkable neighborhood. And its just been enhanced with the Stevens Square Community Center moving forward.
A great location to build a community!
Compatible Businesses in the Classrooms
Above Growing Learners are the second floor former classrooms. In the future they will be rented to compatible businesses that could further enhance the Stevens Square Community Center and the Stevens Square at Baxter Woods lifestyle choices.
A Visionary Developer
The Stevens Square Community Center is the brainchild of Stevens Square's visionary Developer Kevin Bunker, founder and principle of Developers Collaborative. It's a major component of Kevin's plan for the entire campus, something that is uncommon to Portland and Maine as a whole: a master planned 55+ Active Lifestyle community.
Kevin's ability to restore the empty school building and transform it into mixed-use wellness and activity center depended on approval of a zoning change, first by the Portland Planning Board and then by the City Council.
Kevin's solid plan for redevelopment fit the city's vision for smart growth and development. That vision focuses on priority corridors like Stevens Avenue and supports walkable neighborhoods where people can access amenities without getting in a car. It also encourages access to public transportation, like the bus line running by Stevens Square.
His company's track record of projects that benefit neighborhoods and the city as a whole helped as well. The zoning change gained final City Council approval on December 16.
An Award-winning Developer
Approval of the Stevens Square Community Center came just days after Kevin Bunker received the 2019 Economic Development Achievement Award from the city of Portland. He received this honor on December 11 surrounded by family, associates, and the Mayor.
Make sure to stay tuned to our website and subscribe to our YouTube page for some upcoming videos about Kevin, his interest in projects that build community, and his track record of adherence to core themes like smart growth, historic preservation, environmental sustainability, and innovative design.
Please contact DC Management with your interest in the Community Center or the Motherhouse.