BAR HARBOR, Maine — Parking likely will be a key issue for the development of a proposed five-story hotel overlooking the harbor, representatives of the developer told local planning officials Wednesday night.
Perry Moore, a local landscape architect who frequently works with Ocean Properties on its local development proposals, told the planning board the company is confident it can meet the town’s parking requirements, even without the option of building a new multilevel parking garage behind the hotel.
“It is our expectation that we’re going to be able to get there,” Moore told the board. “It doesn’t make sense for us to have 120 rooms and 30 parking spaces.”
Earlier this month, Ocean Properties submitted a preliminary application to the town to construct a five-story, $12 million hotel on the south side of West Street, from the corner of Main Street to the corner of Rodick Street. Several buildings now on West Street, including those that house the Quarterdeck Restaurant and the Bar Harbor Whale Museum, would be torn down to make way for the new hotel.
Eben Salvatore, Ocean Properties’ director of Bar Harbor operations, told the board the company hopes to work out an arrangement by which it can build a publicly accessible parking garage behind the hotel, on property now owned by the town. The proposed garage site now is used for public parking and for rear access to many businesses on Main and Cottage streets.
Moore said there now are about 60 parking spaces in the lot, but there would be about 200 parking spaces in the proposed parking deck.
Salvatore said that parking is always an issue in Bar Harbor during the busy summer tourist season, and the town has been discussing the possibility of building a parking garage on that site for years. Ocean Properties is prepared to maintain the existing access routes to the parking area, which are Lenox Place and York Street, he said, but the company wants to change the access to the proposed garage site.
For example, Ocean Properties is willing to widen Rodick Street, which is connected to the parking lot by York Street, so that Rodick Street can be made a two-way street without the loss of any curbside parking. Rodick Street between Cottage and West streets now is one-way northbound, but Salvatore said it already is wide enough to handle two-way traffic without curbside parking.
If two-way traffic were allowed on that part of Rodick Street, Salvatore said, delivery trucks and the public could reach the parking garage without having to turn onto Lenox Place, which likely would be a narrow access point if the hotel is built on either side and above it.
Rick Leiser, co-owner of Galyn’s Galley on Main Street, said he was concerned that a parking garage might inhibit the ability of commercial trucks and emergency vehicles to gain access to the back of his restaurant. Salvatore said that Ocean Properties wants to work with the town to make sure such access to Galyn’s and other neighboring businesses is preserved.
Salvatore told the board the hotel would be built and finished to luxury-quality standards. It likely will look somewhat different, but not necessarily fancier, than Ocean Properties’ Harborside Hotel, which is farther west on West Street, he said.
“People will pay for a high-end product,” Salvatore said.
Some members of the board expressed concern that the hotel facade, which would take up the entire block, may look overly monolithic when compared with the existing smaller buildings on West Street. Salvatore said the submitted drawing is preliminary, and that the company is willing to consider modifying the design to help break up the facade and make the hotel’s appearance more consistent with the surrounding downtown area.
Kay Stevens-Rosa, chairman of the planning board, also expressed concern that downtown Bar Harbor might become overly dominated by seasonal lodging businesses. In response, Salvatore said the hotel is expected to have retail tenants in storefront locations on its first floor that could remain open year-round.
“It’s in our interest to try to extend the [tourist] season,” Salvatore said.
Salvatore also told the board that Ocean Properties is considering getting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for the new hotel.
As an example of making the hotel environmentally friendly, Salvatore told the board Ocean Properties hopes to heat the hotel’s proposed rooftop pool with solar power.
The appearance by Salvatore and Moore in front of the board was listed on the meeting agenda as a completeness review, by which the board makes sure that all required building application documents have been submitted in proper order to the town. But Salvatore said what Ocean Properties really was looking for Wednesday was simply to start the dialogue between the company and town officials about what Ocean Properties’ goals for the project are and what the town’s expectations and concerns might be.
The project’s completeness review was continued to the board’s next meeting, which is scheduled for April 1.