MOUNT DESERT — If all goes smoothly, ground could be broken this coming spring for a building at 141 Main Street in Northeast Harbor that will house 15 College of the Atlantic students and a faculty or staff member, and the building could be ready for occupancy the following spring or early summer.
That is according to the architect, John Gordon, and COA’s project manager, Millard Dority, who spoke Tuesday at a virtual public meeting about plans for what is to be called the College of the Atlantic Mount Desert Center. Gordon has developed concept drawings for the project.
Mount Desert 365, the nonprofit community development organization, owns the lot on which the building will be constructed and has entered into a 50-year lease agreement with COA.
COA President Darron Collins said 15 students, mostly juniors and seniors, will be selected to live in the new three-story building, which will have three student apartments with five bedrooms each.
“It’s not just going to be a random assortment of students who will be there,” he said. “We imagine they will all share an interest in either community development, entrepreneurship or the marine sciences.”
The new building will have no classrooms or meeting space. Students will continue to attend classes at the Bar Harbor campus.
“Since they will be 11 miles from the main campus, we are imagining a reduced rent for students that we select to be there, in exchange for students participating in the Northeast Harbor community,” Collins said. “That can be through volunteerism with the likes of the Maine Seacoast Mission or maybe the elementary school or MD365 or some other partners.
“This project is perfectly aligned with our mission,” Collins said. “It’s about contributing with MD365 to the year-round community in Northeast Harbor.”
Kathy Miller, executive director of MD365, said the partnership with COA also fits perfectly with her organization’s mission.
“Our primary goal is to bring back a more robust, year-round population,” she said.
While the three five-bedroom apartments will house students during the school year, they will be available for rent to others in the community in the summer. A small apartment will be for a COA faculty or staff member.
At ground level, fronting Main Street, will be 750 feet of retail space. Collins said it hasn’t been decided what type of business will occupy that space.
“Ideally, we would like the occupant to be somewhat aligned with the mission of the college, but at this point we are pretty wide open to ideas,” he said.
The location of the proposed new building is the former site of the Joy Building, which was destroyed by fire in 2008. It is between the Kimball Shop and The Colonel’s Restaurant.