BAR HARBOR — The former Rainwise factory showroom on Federal Street will be converted into apartments for 40 seasonal workers following planning board action July 2.
By a vote of 3-0, the board approved hotelier Tom Walsh’s $2.8-million plan to convert the vacant building to eight apartments for Ocean Properties workers. Each two bedroom, two bath apartment, sized at approximately 800 square feet, will house five Ocean Properties employees, according to plans.
Neighbor Marion Fine, who lives with her husband Marc at the nearby Acadia Veterinary Hospital, said at the meeting that the huge influx of workers would bring concerns about traffic, safety and noise to her otherwise quiet neighborhood.
The former Rainwise building is in the center of downtown but sits back from Cottage Street on the residential Federal Street.
Zoning in the area allows up to five unrelated people to live in a dwelling unit, with a specific allowance for multi-family apartment buildings. Density is controlled by height and area-per-family requirements, with no other limits on the number of apartments that can be contained in a building.
Planning board member Basil Eleftheriou said he felt compelled to approve the project, even while it does seem like it will be a major change to the character of the neighborhood.
“I’m sensitive to the issue of it being a lot of people. However, there is nothing in our land use that says it can’t be done,” he said. “We really can’t do anything about it.”
Ocean Properties is one of the largest hotel companies in the area, with such properties as the West Street Hotel, Harborside Hotel and the Regency. The company owns and runs resort properties across North America.