$12M, 5-story hotel eyed for Bar Harbor

Posted March 06, 2009, at 8:49 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:46 a.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A major hotel and resort property company has submitted an application to planning officials to build a $12 million hotel overlooking the harbor on West Street.

Ocean Properties’ latest project in Bar Harbor would result in a five-story, 121-room hotel with an outdoor rooftop pool and a fitness center, according to documents on file at the town office.

It would take up the block between Main and Rodick streets and would have parking along Rodick Street.

The proposal was filed with the town planning office Thursday. According to Kris Hultgren of the planning office, the project is scheduled for a completeness review hearing March 18.

Eben Salvatore, Ocean Properties’ local operations manager, said Friday that the company hopes to get approval in the coming months so it can start building this fall.

Salvatore said the land acquisition process for the proposed hotel site started in 1998, when Ocean Properties acquired the parcel where the Bar Harbor Whale Museum is now. That acquisition was part of the company’s purchase of the former Golden Anchor Inn, on the north side of West Street, where the Harborside Hotel and Marina now is.

According to Ocean Properties’ application documents, the whale museum is expected to get a new home inside the proposed hotel. There also would be retail space and a 15-seat cafe-style restaurant in the hotel, which would employ an estimated total of 80 people.

Salvatore said that Ocean Properties acquired Samantha Brent’s home on Rodick Street last summer. That purchase enabled the company to start working on a plan for how the new hotel would be configured.

“It’s a decision we made awhile ago, to purchase this project and put the pieces together,” Salvatore said.

Besides the Harborside Hotel, other area hotels that Ocean Properties owns and operates include the Holiday Inn Regency Hotel, Days Inn, and the Park Entrance Motel. Elsewhere in Maine, it owns the Samoset Resort in Rockport, the Fairfield Inn in Bangor, the Holiday Inn in Bath, and the Sable Oaks Suites and Portland Marriott in South Portland.

Ocean Properties also recently has tried to work out an agreement with the city of Portland to redevelop the Main State Pier. Initially, it lost the bidding process to Olympia Cos. then tried again to work out a deal after Olympia backed out. The second attempt also came up empty when Ocean Properties decided in January not to pursue the $160 million project.

Last month, Ocean Properties decided against pursuing a $100 million project in Hollywood, Fla., due to “current economic conditions,” the Portland Press Herald has reported.

Salvatore said Friday that Ocean Properties’ decision to pursue the West Street project is not connected to what has happened with the company’s development prospects elsewhere. He acknowledged that although now does not seem to be a prime time to pursue a $12 million project, Ocean Properties has always done well in Bar Harbor and, based upon bookings for the coming season, expects to continue doing well.

“We’re pretty confident in Bar Harbor as a destination,” he said. “Our reservations for this coming summer are very encouraging.”

Ocean Properties, which is privately owned by Bangor native Thomas Walsh and members of his family, owns more than 100 resort and hotel properties in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Last fall, it also acquired the 330-room Sagamore Hotel resort in Lake George, N.Y., where, Salvatore said, he spent this past January helping to plan and supervise renovations at the lakefront resort property.

As for its latest area proposal, Salvatore said that Ocean Properties has been talking to the town and other nearby landowners about building a parking garage behind the hotel site, where a town-owned parking lot and other private parking already exist.

The plan submitted Thursday calls for parking for the hotel to be created along Rodick Street, but that could change, according to Salvatore.

“We would prefer to have that [garage as] parking for the hotel,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been talking about [with the town] since last summer.”

btrotter@bangordailynews.net

460-6318

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