Island inn project once destroyed by fire back on track to open by Memorial Day weekend

Posted Aug. 13, 2014, at 12:27 p.m.

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This former U.S. Army facility on Portland's Great Diamond Island is being renovated and repurposed as a luxury hotel.
Brad Rogers | CBS 13
This former U.S. Army facility on Portland's Great Diamond Island is being renovated and repurposed as a luxury hotel.
Brick walls and chimneys were all that remained after a fire destroyed a hotel under development on Great Diamond Island in Casco Bay on Nov. 25, 2013.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Brick walls and chimneys were all that remained after a fire destroyed a hotel under development on Great Diamond Island in Casco Bay on Nov. 25, 2013. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — Last November, a brand new luxury island inn out on Casco Bay was nearly finished when a fire, fueled by gale-force winds, destroyed the hotel. Had the brick walls come down, there was no chance of rebuilding. The walls stood firm. And so did everyone else on this project.

For managing partner David Bateman, it’s still hard to talk about the fire that nearly destroyed his dream. CBS 13 went with him to the island Tuesday. Bateman said, “That’s exactly where we lost sections of the wall.” But when the fire finally ended, enough of these sturdy brick walls were still standing to allow them to rebuild.

Bateman said, “Remember, this was a military compound. And everything here was built to withstand this type of catastrophic engagement, fire.”

Bateman said from the first day that everyone involved in this luxury hotel project wanted to rebuild. And that is exactly what they’re doing out on Great Diamond Island.

Architect David Lloyd says it’s sort of like deja vu watching workers rebuild The Inn At Diamond Cove. Lloyd said, “To see it burn down was pretty devastating. But it’s an interesting process to see it start to come back together again.” The inn was 95 percent complete when the fire destroyed everything. But not the furniture.

Bateman said all the furniture “was about two weeks away from being delivered just before the fire.” Now that furniture sits in a warehouse. Bateman showed CBS 13 one of the walls that had to be rebuilt. But he said the new granite, bricks and mortar are an exact historical match to the original military barracks.

Bateman said, “When we’re done, this will look exactly the way it did when it was first built.” But with one exception. He said, “This time around, it’s all noncombustible construction instead of wood frame.” With the new pool already in, David Bateman hopes to open this luxury island inn next Memorial Day weekend.

Lloyd told CBS 13, “You’ll see a lot of progress in the next six weeks. That’s when the frame goes up and the floors get in and the roof goes on. That’s when you really see progress on a job site.” Once the roof is up and the windows are in place, workers will then turn their attention to the inside of this luxury hotel.

Fire investigators still don’t know what caused the fire that destroyed The Inn at Diamond Cove. However, the case remains open. If members of the public have any information about this fire, they are asked to call the state fire marshal’s office.

 

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