MOUNT DESERT — The commercial tenants in the buildings at 147 and 149 Main St. in Northeast Harbor have been notified by Mount Desert 365, which owns the buildings, that their leases won’t be renewed for next year.
MD365, the nonprofit organization working to boost economic development and provide workforce housing, acquired those two properties and the vacant lot at 151 Main St. last year.
Maine Gifts by the Sea, a cooperative of about 60 Maine artists and craftspeople, has leased the ground floor of the 147 Main St. building for the past five years. Its current lease expires in November.
MD365 Executive Director Kathy Miller said in a June 8 letter to Jane Pieriboni, president of Maine Gifts by the Sea, that “at some point we will be taking down the current structure … and replacing it with a new building that will provide commercial space on the ground floor and several apartments on the upper floors.”
“The existing building, while functional and charming, doesn’t provide the kind of efficiencies or residential opportunities we’d like to see there,” Miller said.
Maine Gifts by the Sea is typically open from late May through mid-October.
“Our primary objective is to enhance the year-round viability of the community, and we would like to see the commercial space used more than May-October,” Miller said in her letter to Pieriboni.
She added that MD365 would like to identify an anchor tenant for the proposed new building and enter into a multiyear lease.
“If that is of interest to Maine Gifts by the Sea, then we would like to set a date and time to meet and get that process underway,” Miller said.
Pieriboni told the Islander on Monday that she is disappointed that the co-op shop won’t be able to operate in the same location next year.
“Aside from the fact that we have a number of people who are going to have to look for another place, there’s something about Northeast; it’s quaint,” she said.
“And taking that whole end of that street off, what is that going to do for the look of the town? It’s a shame. Because the building we’re in is just beautiful. It’s old, but it’s beautiful.
“I don’t see how destroying something is going to enhance anything,” she said.
Pieriboni, a painter, lives in Dover-Foxcroft.
The building at 147 Main St. was built in 1920.
Miller told the Islander Monday, “We could leave things as they are, or we could improve everything for everybody and provide more apartments and have it be more conforming with the [zoning ordinance] and have a building that we hope will last for the next 100 years.”
Miller said the proprietor of the Schneible Fine Art gallery, which has been leasing half of the ground floor of the 149 Main St. building, has been notified that the space will not be available next year. That building was constructed in 1914.
The Schneible gallery is open only in the summer, when it also displays its Treasures from Asia sculptures on the adjacent 151 Main St. lot.
Miller said of MD365’s plan for the three lots, 147-151 Main St., “We are looking at possibilities for each of those, to provide commercial space on the ground floor and residences up above.”
WMH Architects, owned by Bill Hanley and Heli Mesiniemi, has been leasing half of the ground floor of 149 Main St., but will move into its own building later this month. The couple is renovating the former laundry building at 10 Neighborhood Road, which they purchased last summer.