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Member No.: 192
Joined: 14-June 05
this is what i got from the portland press
Everyone understood this would be the final summer for the maze of amusement games and a landmark bar that occupies a block in the heart of town. Sure enough, more than a week after Labor Day, excavators ripped through the warren of games and novelty stands known as Village Park, reducing them to piles of splintered wood in under two hours. On Tuesday, a bar known as the Krazy Klam was a shell of its former self, with patrons having stripped the place of memorabilia.
The bar is scheduled to be torn down at noon today, along with a nearby faux pink lighthouse.
By next summer, the Grand Victorian, a five-story, 48-unit condominium and retail project that many see as the future direction of Old Orchard Beach is scheduled to stand on the site.
Most residents welcome local developer Tim Swenson's project, the first major construction in downtown Old Orchard in decades. Town officials also cite the Grand Victorian as a big step toward their vision of helping the beach resort attract more upscale businesses and shed its honky-tonk image.
Others say the change occurring at the center of town represents a misguided rush to increase Old Orchard's tax base at the expense of its quirky, unpolished character. The sort of places now being torn down, they say, are exactly what distinguish this town from other coastal communities.
Those who watched the excavators at work Tuesday remarked on the speed and size of the changes occurring in downtown Old Orchard. Among them was one of the original owners of the Krazy Klam, Tony Barbano, who built the bar with his childhood friend, Swenson, in the 1980s.
Barbano said he wouldn't flinch when the bar came down. In fact, he had arranged with Swenson to be the one operating the excavator.
"It's time for a change," he said. "We built it. We're going to take it down."
Barbano, 40, said he and Swenson built the Krazy Klam in piecemeal fashion, eventually creating a 300-seat establishment known for a straightforward menu of loud music, beer and fresh seafood. He also has owned or managed other restaurants in Old Orchard, but his family sold the bar three years ago.
Now he is building his own four-unit condominium project on East Grand Avenue.
"They're selling," he said of his condos.
Priced between $300,000 at $400,000, the condos at the Grand Victorian are selling briskly too, according to Swenson. The developer said he had received deposits on 37 of the 48 units, with some buyers coming from Portland and most of the others from out of state.
Unlike the collection of amusement games it will replace, the $20 million Grand Victorian is designed as a lasting structure that is likely to be a prominent feature on the Old Orchard skyline for years.
The building's two towers will rise to 80 feet, 10 feet taller than the top of the Ferris wheel on the other side of Old Orchard Street. The concrete structure is designed so a storm surge could sweep through its first floor without toppling it, Swenson said.
The Grand Victorian may soon occupy the Village Park space, but for some it will never replace the businesses that helped define Old Orchard Beach in recent years.
Standing at the entrance to the gutted bar, Donna Gonsalves, who bought the Krazy Klam from Barbano, said she thought the new development was a net loss for the town, especially for those who couldn't afford expensive condominiums.
"I think the common person is very sad," she said. "They had a diamond in the rough and they just let it go."
But it wasn't difficult to find others who were less sentimental about the bar. Edwin Lea, a longtime resident who came downtown to photograph the excavators, said he welcomed the change.
"The other stuff, it wasn't first class," said the 75-year-old Lea. "I think it's going to be quality now."
Staff Writer Seth Harkness can be contacted at 282-8225 or at:
Copyright © Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc.
i will try to drive out to see what side is coming down, please not that i was going off of reports i have yet to see it with my two eyes. it sounds like the games on the left are gone. from the size of the project i would venture a guess of playlands doom, but the side metiond in the article i believe is across the street on the opposite side of the peir.
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