Wayne Snyder, recently of Northport, spent most of his career building shopping malls in metropolitan areas. Now, ostensibly retired, he’s kept busy with a pair of decidedly anti-mall developments in Belfast — a housing development built around principles of environmentalism and community, and a food storage facility that is aiming to be a magnet for local agriculture.

Asked how he got from there to here, the soft-spoken Snyder laughed.

“You should ask my therapist,” he said.

Snyder started his career with degrees in history and political science and initially did a variety of jobs with social work components, including stints with the Ford Foundation in Chile, New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs and the American School of Puebla, Mexico.

In the mid-70’s he got into housing development and in 1979 joined a company called Kravco, based in King of Prussia, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia.

A decade-and-a-half earlier, Kravco had built an open-air shopping center called The Plaza at King of Prussia, anchored by first-generation discount department store E.J. Korvette, since defunct, a J.C. Penney and an ACME supermarket.

Because of the nexus of major roads in King of Prussia, including two interstate highways and several state roads, Snyder said the area gradually became the best market for office and retail space in the Philadelphia area.

Shortly after he joined Kravco, the company built a second, more upscale mall across the road called The Court at King of Prussia and connected the two buildings with a pedestrian walkway.

Snyder took a leave from Kravco in the mid-’80s and worked for a pair of real estate management companies for the next eight years. In 1994, he returned to Kravco where he served as chairman and CEO, overseeing a $185-million expansion of the King of Prussia Mall that made it the largest in the country.

A business article published at the time aimed to put the new mega-mall in perspective, noting that “five of the Great Pyramids could stand in the boundaries of The Plaza and The Court at King of Prussia. Two Louisiana Superdomes and a Taj Mahal could be built on its acreage.”

Snyder directed other developments around the country, including the Bangor Mall expansion in 1998, which added a Filene’s store (now Macy’s) as part of a new wing.

He left Kravco in 2004 and continued to do consulting work, serving also as executive vice president for a mall development company on Long Island, and in 2009 retired to a vacation home in Northport that he had bought more than a decade earlier, selling his house in Philadelphia on the idea that one home was enough.

“We did it for lifestyle,” he said, of moving to Maine. “We thought it would be a more healthy, enjoyable lifestyle, which it turned out to be.”

Snyder got involved with the proposed food storage facility of Coastal Farms & Food Processing and the Belfast Cohousing and Ecovillage development, in part through his brother Dr. T. Richard Snyder, chairman of the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, who knew principals of both developments. But there were other factors.

In one of the cases, Wayne Snyder said, several prospective investors approached him because they were interested in the project but had concerns about the business side and believed he could help.

Jan Anderson, who came up with the concept for Coastal Farms & Food Processing while serving on the Belfast City Council in 2009, brought Snyder on as business partner to help bridge the gap between what she saw as a great idea and the reality of starting a very large business.

So far, it appears to have worked. Anderson, Snyder and company recently signed a lease for the 60,000-square-foot building previously occupied by tensioned fabric display maker Moss, Inc. and plan to install massive flash freezers, dry and cold storage spaces and a kitchen for a food processing business.

Anderson predicted the completed Coastal Farms facility would open by April 2012.

Snyder worked on the financing side of the business, which included negotiating a USDA-guaranteed bank loan that Anderson said was far more complex than any bank loan she had ever applied for.

“I think I might have gotten there myself but it would have taken me longer,” she said. “His experience gave me that confidence that we would eventually get there, and I think other people involved in it — the banks, the USDA and the lawyers — recognized his skills and his stature more than they would mine since I haven’t done this before.”

Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage — a planned community combining bygone ideas of community with modern, energy-efficient architecture — recently received final approval from the Belfast Planning Board for a 36- to 40-home development.

Work on the Tufts Road property was expected to begin this week, according to Geoff Gilchrist, who has been acting as a liaison between member homebuyers and various outside parties. He said the group initially relied on advice from principals of other co-housing projects but in the later stages needed someone who knew the nuts and bolts of development and finance. What they found, to a certain degree, was that development was development, whether it was a mall or an Ecovillage

“It’s not a totally intuitive fit,” Gilchrist said of having a former mall developer join the ranks of the Cohousing project. “We were a little skeptical about it in the beginning, just, ‘OK, so he’s done a bunch of malls.’ But after talking with him a couple times, we found him to be very easy to work with.”

Snyder’s recent work represents a departure from what he did for decades — “certainly Coastal Farms is totally different,” he said, noting that the co-housing development is somewhat familiar from his work in residential development. But like Gilchrist, Snyder said there are similarities from one development to the next.

He took out a single sheet of paper on which was printed a 20-point plan relating to the financing of one of the developments. The list indicated a sequence of steps that was both generic and clearly informed by years of experience.

“That’s very similar to what you’d do with a shopping center,” he said.