MOUNT DESERT — College of the Atlantic and Mount Desert 365 are teaming up to create a mixed-use development in downtown Northeast Harbor.
The new three-story College of the Atlantic Mount Desert Center will have year-round apartments for about 15 students and one COA guest or faculty member on the upper floors, with retail space at street level.
The building will be at 141 Main Street, 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.
“The Center will be a catalyst for deepening COA’s mission to add to the cultural, intellectual and economic vitality of Mount Desert Island, while supporting MD365’s mission of promoting the long-term economic vitality of the town of Mount Desert,” COA President Darron Collins said in a press release.
MD365, a nonprofit organization formed in 2017 to promote economic development and affordable housing, recently acquired the lot for the COA Mount Desert Center and has entered into a long-term lease with the college.
“We are delighted to welcome COA students, faculty and staff to be part of the year-round community, adding vitality and diversity,” said MD365 Executive Director Kathy Miller. “With focal points on environmental issues, marine studies and education, they will bring new perspectives and energy, as well as add to the population who live and work here every day.”
Collins said the center will house primarily older students who have demonstrated a commitment to leadership and to expertise in their subject areas.
He said the goals of the center will include engaging students and faculty with research and academic work in Mount Desert, offering clean energy solutions through the COA Community Energy Center, hosting events and talks and eventually keeping one of the college’s research ships at the Northeast Harbor Marina.
Funding for construction of the COA Mount Desert Center will come from the college’s $50 million Broad Reach Capital Campaign. So far, the campaign has raised $49.7 million.
Architect John Gordon, who will design the new building, said energy efficiency would be of paramount importance.
“In keeping with COA’s long tradition of being a vanguard of sustainability, this building’s energy performance and low-carbon goals will be at the forefront when compared to other similar buildings in this climate,” Gordon said.
He said another goal is for the new building to present “a traditional façade that will be a comfortable fit on Main Street in Northeast Harbor.”
Construction is expected to start early next summer.