SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Harness racing will remain in operation at Scarborough Downs for the foreseeable future. Two local families are partnering up to begin developing the 480-acre property and it could begin as early as Spring.

Peter and Richard Michaud, formerly of Michaud Distributors, and William, Marc and Rocco Risbara III, from Risbara Bros., are under contract to buy the racetrack and surrounding land.

“When we saw the Downs come available and really took a good close look at it, we realized it was probably within our grasp and something that would really make a nice development,” said Rocco Risbara III. “Our intention would be to start on the outer edges and build our way in. The track will continue to operate and we will figure that piece out.” Risbara could not say the long-term plans for the track, but it will remain open on a limited schedule through a lease-back agreement with the Terry family.

Scarborough Town Manager Thomas Hall says he has worked with the developers for previous projects.

“Both are well established in the community,” said Hall. “Both have their own development and business exploits that proceed them. “In the conversations we have had so far, this property has come up time and time again as a tremendous opportunity. I think there is a collective understanding that there is a great opportunity here. Let’s just make sure we do it right.”

The cost of the sale will not be released until it closes, which is slated for early 2018. Plans are not set in stone, but the mixed-use zoning could bring commercial opportunities and single-family lots, condominiums and possible apartments.

The developers are presenting the initial steps to the long-range planning committee Friday and could go in front of council in early January. Those close to the project say it may take up to a year to get approved from the town and the state.