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PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Nearly four years since developers first presented plans to the city of Portland, ground is broken on the Thompson's Point development project. The $110 million dollar development will turn 30 acres of former industrial land next to the Fore River into a massive retail, arts and sports complex.

The project is being called a major gateway for Maine's largest city. The project will be the first thing visitors will see as they head into Portland on I-295. The project is expected to bring a major boost to the economy, initially creating more than 1,000 construction jobs.

Friday's ground breaking drew a mix of federal, state and city officials which has been in the planning stages for nearly four years. Work has already begun on one the four existing buildings on the site, some had served the railroad.

This 35,000 square foot building will house retail and businesses including an artist studio and a bakery. The former train shed at Union Station which was demolished in 1960, will be converted into a multi-use building that will open on to an ampitheatre. It will be the site of Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Across America Festival scheduled for August. The structure will host other events as well.

"That will be where a variety of events can occur all season. You can have skating in the winter and concerts in the summer. We have a great partnership with Portland trails, so there will be trails all along the water edge, leading down to the point,' said Chris Thompson, the project developer.

Nearly $4 million dollars worth of infrastructure projects will also get underway soon, including widening the Thompson Point Connector road to three lane and improving the exit 5A ramp on 295. Altogether the project will be done in two phases and could take six to ten years to complete.

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