Resort company buys historic Bar Harbor inn

Posted July 31, 2010, at 1:25 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:08 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — A well-known inn property has been bought out of bankruptcy by an international resort company with local holdings.

The Ledgelawn Inn, built in 1904, has been purchased by Ocean Properties Ltd., which also owns the Harborside and Regency hotels in Bar Harbor, the Samoset Resort in Rockport, and other Maine properties. The firm owns more than 100 resorts and hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

The 33-room Ledgelawn Inn, which includes a 12-room annex built in 1982, was put up for auction in March by Machias Savings Bank, which had foreclosed on the property after former owners Joan and Daniel Mills defaulted on their mortgage payments. The Mills filed for bankruptcy in federal court in Bangor in February.

Representatives of Ocean Properties attended the March 19 auction, but according to the firm that conducted the auction on behalf of the bank, no acceptable bids were submitted at that time.

According to Bar Harbor’s official online assessors database, the assessed value of the property is nearly $2.9 million. The Mills bought the inn and the 1.45-acre parcel of land it sits on in 2005 for $2.8 million.

Eben Salvatore, Ocean Properties’ director of operations for Mount Desert Island, said Friday that after the auction the company maintained contact with the bank and was able to reach a sale agreement about a month ago. He wasn’t sure what the purchase price was — that was handled by the company’s main office in Portsmouth, N.H. — but said it was more than $1 million.

Salvatore said the previous owners had not kept up with maintenance at the inn, which needs a lot of repairs, beginning with leaks in the roof. He said renovation work has begun and likely will include asbestos removal, window replacement and sprinkler installation, among other things.

“It just needs to be restored,” Salvatore said of the inn. “It’s got a ton of history. It’s got great character.”

Salvatore acknowledged that, with only 33 rooms, the inn is relatively small compared to Ocean Properties’ other local hotels. The Regency has more than 270 rooms, while the Harborside has more than 180.

Salvatore said the company might decide to run the Ledgelawn as a bed-and-breakfast. The company may consider increasing the parking on-site, which could lead to adding a few more rooms to the inn.

“We’re still considering what to do,” Salvatore said of Ocean Properties’ ultimate plans for the property. “Whatever we do there will be small and quaint.”

Salvatore said he is not sure how long the renovation project will take. It likely will depend on what carpenters find inside walls and roofs when they make other improvements, he said.

Ocean Properties will have other construction crews in Bar Harbor this fall and winter, when it begins work on a planned $12 million hotel on West Street, overlooking the harbor in downtown Bar Harbor, according to Salvatore. He said work between the two properties could be coordinated as schedules allow.

The local planning board had rejected the company’s application to build the West Street hotel in February, but the town’s appeals board overturned the decision in April, giving the project the town’s approval.

Salvatore said rival hotelier David Witham has filed an appeal in Hancock County Superior Court of Bar Harbor’s approval of the West Street project, but he doesn’t expect that appeal to affect Ocean Properties’ plans.

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