A rendering of the planned renovation to A&B Naturals on Cottage Street in Bar Harbor. Owner Kathryn Arbach expects the work to be completed by June. DRAWING COURTESY OF FOUR WINDS DESIGN

A&B market is expanding

BAR HARBOR — Natural food store A&B Naturals has begun work on an expansion, adding 1,000 square feet to the business space and two one-bedroom apartments to the building. Owner Kathryn Arbach worked with Meredith Randolph of Four Winds Design on the project. The planned two-story addition will not dramatically change the appearance of the building from Cottage Street, except the addition of a gable end and a small tower office space. The building also will change color, with new vertical red siding.

The town Design Review Board granted a certificate of appropriateness for the project at their Sept. 10 meeting. They asked about the awnings currently over the front windows and lighting plans. The awnings are not part of the final plan, Arbach said. The application was approved on the condition that outdoor lights be 100-watt LED equivalent or less.

A building permit for the project was issued Oct. 20.

“To keep costs reasonable, the space that I had available to expand into was behind the building,” Arbach told the Islander. The building footprint will expand back away from Cottage Street. Parking at the front and Holland Street side of the store will remain, she said. The work will include remediation of any remnants of the former service station that used to be on the property.

The plan is for the upstairs apartments to provide year-round housing. “As most business owners can tell you, it’s just crazy trying to find people to work in the summer because they have nowhere to live,” Arbach said. “We’re planning on using those apartments as year-round. We don’t have a firm end date for the project, but the apartments are almost already spoken for.”

With the additional retail space, Arbach is hoping to be able to provide more product selection and welcomes suggestions for new items.

The new space also will allow them to update their refrigeration system and increase energy efficiency. “We’re getting new refrigerators and new freezers, and the compressors will be outside,” she said. “Currently they’re inside, and it makes it almost impossible to cool the building in the summer. I’ll be saving a ton of energy this way.”

Arbach said Randolph did a great job researching options and materials. “I was really concerned about using local materials and materials that are better on the environment,” she said. “Of course, I was also concerned about costs.

Meredith did a great job helping me get all those wishes fulfilled without breaking the bank. I think it’s going to look really nice. It’s fitting all the things I wanted to get out of it.”

The store, which opened in 2007 and has about 20 year-round employees, is set to remain open during most of the construction. “They’re building a portion of the structure outside first. Then they’ll start breaking down the wall,” she said. “A few times, we probably will have to close, like when we redo the kitchen.”

She’s hoping the project will be completed by June.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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