October 19, 2018
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Developer with childhood dream to ‘own my own town’ buys Maine waterfront inn

BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — Liquor magnate Paul Coulombe, whom local residents credit — and blame — for his efforts to “revitalize” numerous properties in the Boothbay region, has expanded his holdings to the east edge of the harbor, recently closing on the nearly 100-room Rocktide Inn & Restaurant and an adjacent vacant waterfront lot.

Coulombe, operating as PGC8 LLC — he also is the principal of a number of corporations including PGC1, PGC2 and PGC3 and PGC5 — bought the nearly-50-year-old establishment at 35-37 Atlantic Ave. on Friday for the asking price of $3.75 million, his representative, Michelle Amero, confirmed Wednesday.

In 2011, the total assessed value of the two adjacent Rocktide properties was $3 million.

“His plans are to spruce up the property during the off season and reopen in May,” Amero said in an email. “He has a genuine love for the Boothbay region and continues to invest in the area with the hope that these investments in numerous iconic properties, many of which had been neglected, will help the Boothbay Region prosper [and] thrive.”

PGC8 also bought a 16,000-square-foot waterfront lot at 41 Atlantic Ave. from Susan B. Miller of South Freeport and Melanie Kipp of Boothbay Harbor, according to a deed filed with the Lincoln County Register of Deeds.

In 2011, the property was assessed at $152,000.

Altogether, the various PGC corporations have acquired more than 50 properties and 10 easements in Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor and Southport since 2013, according to the registry of deeds.

Calls to Coulombe at his Southport estate went unanswered, and numbers listed for his Cape Elizabeth and Bonita Springs, Florida, homes were not in service.

Coulombe, a Lewiston native, assumed his family business, White Rock Distilleries in 1995, and in 2012, he sold it to the parent company of Jim Beam, according to the website for Boothbay Village Square, another of Coulombe’s Boothbay developments. He retired and built an 18,000-square-foot estate on the east coast of Pratt’s Island off nearby Southport that reportedly cost $30 million.

Coulombe has donated extensively to a number of charitable organizations in the Boothbay area, which Amero said is driven, like his investments, by his love for the region developed when visiting the area with his family as a child.

In November, the New York Times reported Coulombe “has been buying up the town piece by piece with the intention of converting it from a comfortable old shoe of a place to a luxury destination.”

Coulombe told a Boston Magazine reporter in 2015, “Well, my initial dream, all my life, since I’ve been a little boy, has been to own my own town.”

Four years ago, Coulombe, doing business as PGC2, purchased the Boothbay Harbor Country Club for $1.4 million, and he has since invested tens of millions of dollars to renovate it into a magnet for “world-class golf.”

A subsequent lawsuit filed by Harris Golf accused Coulombe, PGC1 and PGC2 of misrepresenting his commitment to Harris Golf owner Jeffrey Harris, to manage the golf course Coulombe was preparing to buy, in an effort to obtain a nearby property owned by Harris’ family and to prevent Harris from purchasing the club himself, according to court documents.

Also with much controversy, Coulombe purchased and dramatically renovated historic Cuckolds lighthouse at the entrance of Boothbay Harbor into an exclusive inn and Gus Pratt’s old general store at the head of Cozy Harbor in Southport into the upscale eatery Oliver’s Cozy Harbor Wharf.

In 2013, Coulombe ruffled feathers of local residents and the Lobster Conservancy when he proposed, and then withdrew, a plan to blast ledge and dredge a Pratt’s Island cove known as a significant juvenile lobster nursery in order to allow his 29-foot sailboat access to his dock at all tides.

Coulombe, doing business as PGC5, also is president of Boothbay Village Square, a development expected to include eight to 10 businesses on a ridge along Route 27 near the country club.

Most recently, in November 2016, Coulombe was the driving force behind a close local vote to fund, with Coulombe and the state of Maine, a new roundabout on Route 27 near Coulombe’s country club and nearby Boothbay Village Square. The Boothbay Register reported that opponents argued that only Coulombe’s developments would benefit from the roundabout.

But Coulombe argued that his developments and donations, including to the Boothbay Opera House, local YMCA and library, have benefited the region overall.

“I’m motivated to improve the community. I’m a philanthropist,” he told the Boothbay Register in November. “We’ve invested tens of millions of dollars into the community which we will never see a return of our investment in dollars. We did it for a more important reason which is making this a better place for everyone.”

 


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