Hotel firm to renovate Bar Harbor pier

Posted Feb. 19, 2011, at 5:22 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 20, 2011, at 8:44 p.m.
An image from a planning document shows different elements of the pier project.
An image from a planning document shows different elements of the pier project.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — It has been nearly 10 years since Ocean Properties built the Harborside Hotel on the site of the former Golden Anchor Inn on West Street, and now the resort firm is looking to finish redevelopment of the pier in front of the pier where the Golden Anchor restaurant once operated.

Earlier this month, Ocean Properties submitted a plan to the town municipal design review board to get approval to convert the former restaurant into four hotel guest suites and to erect seven “retail shacks” on the pier and along the concourse that connects the pier to West Street. A house just off West Street will be torn down and replaced with a one-story retail building, while restrooms and an information desk will be built on a foundation that had been intended for a poolside bar.

As part of the pier redevelopment plan, the firm also plans to erect a pedestrian drawbridge between the hotel pier and Stewman’s Lobster Pound, a restaurant that it owns on a neighboring pier. By being able to raise and lower the footbridge, fishing boats will be able to get to and from a nearby beach where fishermen sometimes tie up their boats for maintenance or small repairs.

Eben Salvatore, Ocean Properties’ director of operations, said Thursday that the firm hopes to complete the project this spring.

“We want to get the entrance to the Harborside [Hotel] cleaned up,” Salvatore said of the pier and concourse renovation project. “It will cost over a million bucks, for sure, by the time it’s all done.”

One issue that will have to be decided, however, is whether Ocean Properties will have to get town planning board approval for the project. Salvatore said the planning board has reviewed the company’s plans for the site and that the company is in the process of getting state approval for the footbridge, which has been endorsed by the harbor committee.

Town officials, however, have indicated that planning board approval for the site has expired and that Ocean Properties’ new plans for the site will have to be reviewed again by the board. A date has not been set for when the planning board might review the proposal.

Four years ago, after completing the hotel project, Ocean Properties had proposed erecting a security screening building on the pier for passengers coming and going from cruise ships anchored in Frenchman Bay. That plan was scrapped, but Salvatore said cruise ship tenders have and will continue to come and go from the hotel pier occasionally. Most cruise ship tenders will continue to use Ocean Properties’ Harborplace pier, which is farther east on West Street, he said.

The pier project is being proposed as Ocean Properties continues to expand its presence along West Street. The firm is clearing land on the other side of West Street for a new $12 million hotel. The company has been demolishing buildings on the south side of West Street between Main and Rodick streets to make way for the new 102-room hotel.

This past week, the company finished tearing down the old Bar Harbor Whale Museum building, and on Monday it plans to begin demolishing the former Duffy’s Restaurant.

Salvatore said Thursday that the firm intends to find a new home in the neighborhood for the whale museum but probably will not be able to do so by this summer.

“It’s unlikely at this point,” he said. “We’ve got a few ideas.”

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