Mount Desert 365 wants to renovate and enlarge these buildings on Main Street in Northeast Harbor for commercial space and apartments.  ISLANDER PHOTO BY FAITH DEAMBROSE 

MD365 plans stores, apartments for Northeast Harbor

MOUNT DESERT — Mount Desert 365, the organization promoting economic development and the creation of affordable housing, has preliminary plans for stores, offices and apartments near the southern end of Main Street in Northeast Harbor. 

MD365 owns the buildings at 147 and 149 Main St., and the lot at 151 Main St. that has been vacant since fire destroyed the Tan Turtle Tavern in 2009. 

“Almost all the buildings along Main Street have commercial space on the ground floor and residential on the upper floors, and we would continue with that pattern,” said Kathy Miller, executive director of MD365. 

“Our plan would be to have as many apartments as the ordinances would allow us. With those three lots and having a second and third floor on each building, we could have 10 apartments. 

But one factor to consider is how many parking spaces we can put there. We want to make sure we have a parking space for every apartment and every commercial space, so that could limit our plans. But housing is so important, so we would really like to maximize the number of apartments.” 

A few years ago, MD365 asked four architectural firms to look at the two existing buildings with an eye toward creating commercial and residential space. One of the buildings dates to 1914, the other to 1920. 

“They are old buildings, and we were looking for some advice on whether we should keep them or scrap them,” Miller said. “Two of the firms said take the buildings down and start fresh. One firm said get rid of one building and keep the other. And the last one said keep both buildings and add on to them, and that’s the one we’re going with.” 

That option was recommended by New York architect Matthew Baird, a longtime summer resident of Northeast Harbor who now has an office in the building at 149 Main St. 

“Much of his work is a very contemporary style, but he knows our desire to keep things in the context of the architecture that exists here already,” Miller said. “He knows this town very well and respects the heritage of this town, and he wants to do what he can to save these buildings.” 

But she noted that the building at 147 Main St., especially, has a lot of problems. 

“It has been jury-rigged so much over the years,” Miller said. “So, we can’t make any promises as to what will happen there, but our desire is to keep the building.” 

She said renovating and enlarging the two existing buildings and building a new one on the vacant lot “will be an expensive operation, no question.” 

“We need to raise the money to make it happen, and it definitely won’t happen this year. We will be looking for people to help us, to make an investment in this community.” 

As for filling the street-level space in the three buildings, Miller said, “There might be some existing businesses that would want to move in there and new businesses we could attract. 

“We get calls all the time from people who are looking for office space and, certainly, for residential space. We would like to make that as available and affordable as possible.” 


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]

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