The two-story house and two cottages on a lot at the edge of the parking lot that overlooks the Northeast Harbor Marina are to be removed to make way for a new building with apartments and offices, including the headquarters of the Maine Seacoast Mission. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

Fall start for new mission HQ: Completion expected by early 2020



MOUNT DESERT — Construction is expected to start this fall on a mixed-use building in Northeast Harbor that will be the new home of the Maine Seacoast Mission’s administrative offices, according to the nonprofit planning to build and own the building.

Kathy Miller, executive director of Mount Desert 365, said the new building is to be set on a quarter-acre lot on Old Firehouse Lane, at the edge of the parking lot that overlooks the Northeast Harbor Marina. The two-story main house and two cottages that are currently on the lot will be torn down or moved.

The new building is to include professional offices and residential apartments. Miller said she expects an architect to be selected within the next couple of weeks.

“We want to build something that is tasteful and fits in with the character of the village,” she said.

Current thinking is that the building, which is expected to be ready for occupancy by early 2020, will have three floors. The height limit for new structures in the Village Commercial zoning district, where the building site it located, is 40 feet.

The announcement last week that the mission has agreed to lease the first floor of the new building ended months of speculation about where it will go after the Colket Center, its headquarters on West Street in Bar Harbor, is sold.

The mission announced last July that it was putting the Colket Center on the market “to transform property into financial resources for programs and services for the future.” The asking price is $6.3 million for the Georgian Revival-style mansion built as a summer “cottage” in 1902.

Once the decision was made to sell, mission President Scott Planting said, “We asked ourselves where we wanted to be and started looking around. It was pretty clear that we wanted to be on this island, which is where we have always been.”

Planting said Miller had called him and suggested the mission consider moving its headquarters to Northeast Harbor.

“Their offer to us was really generous and interesting,” he said. “They clearly were interested in having us in that community.”

MD 365 was formed last year to promote economic development and create affordable housing with the goal of revitalizing Mount Desert, and especially Northeast Harbor, as a sustainable year-round community.

Planting said that was one of the factors in the mission’s decision to move its offices there.

“We will have a nice space, but we’re also going to have kind of a larger purpose in bringing our group of people over to Northeast Harbor. That seemed like a win-win to me,” Planting said.

The mission has a year-round office staff of about 10 people.

“What’s important for us is the culture of the mission as a welcoming place, a hospitable place, and that’s important to [MD 365], too,” Planting said.

The mission, founded in 1905, provides “healthcare for fishermen … food for families and life-changing opportunities for kids” in island and coastal communities in Downeast Maine. Its vessel, Sunbeam, is used to take “spiritual, health and youth development programs” to those communities.

Sunbeam’s home port is Northeast Harbor, another reason it will be nice to have the mission’s offices there, Planting said.

Alex Birdsall, MD 365’s communications manager, said the three structures that currently occupy the building site are to be removed no later than June. He said the foundation of the main house, especially, is in bad shape, and the basement is flooded. But if the rest of the house is deemed reasonably sound, and if someone wants to move it or the cottages, MD 365 would be open to that.

Otherwise, Birdsall said, the organization would look to donate whatever can be salvaged and reused, such as fixtures, cabinets, doors and windows. He said MD 365 has been in touch with several organizations, including ReStore in Ellsworth, which is operated by Hancock County Habitat for Humanity and sells donated furniture, appliances and building materials.

Once the existing buildings are removed but before construction starts, the lot won’t be left with gaping holes, Birdsall said.

“It will be turned into publicly available, nicely landscaped green space for the summer,” he said.

 

 

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]
Dick Broom

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