Sam Shaw holds a model of the take-out restaurant he planned as part of a commercial development on Main Street in Northeast Harbor. Shaw sold the property, putting the nature of the development of the property in question. PHOTO COURTESY OF MEREDITH RANDOLPH

Trump’s win shifts development plans



MOUNT DESERT — Disheartened by the election of President Donald Trump, jewelry maker and store owner Sam Shaw abruptly abandoned his plans for a commercial development at 131 Main St. in Northeast Harbor and sold the property.

“I had a really great project and everything was all lined up, and then I woke up Nov. 9 with that man being elected, and it basically sucked the optimism out of my brain,” Shaw said.

On what he described as “an impulse, an emotional reaction,” he called John Boynton, a summer resident of Northeast Harbor who, with his wife, Johanna, has rebuilt 123 Main St. and plans to develop the lot at 145 Main St. Shaw asked Boynton if he wanted to buy the 131 Main St. property, which is directly across the street from Shaw’s jewelry store.

“Within minutes, the deal was done,” Shaw said.

The closing was in mid-December.

The front part of the nearly half-acre lot is the former site of Sherman’s bookstore and a shop called “Impressions,” which were torn down about eight years ago after being declared derelict. Shaw had planned to construct two small buildings there.

In the middle of the lot, which extends all the way to Tracy Road, are two old, shingled-sided buildings that Shaw had planned to renovate.

His development, which was to be called The Marketplace, would have included a take-out restaurant, a bar, a hair salon and a few retail shops and apartments.

Shaw had been planning The Marketplace ever since buying the lot in late 2014.

“I have no doubt I could have done this, and it would have been a financial success,” he said. “But it would have been hard and stressful and perhaps not the best use of my time as an artist.”

He acknowledged there had been moments when he regretted his “impetuous” decision to sell.

“But I kept coming back to what was my overwhelming desire from day one, and that was to have that property developed,” Shaw said. “And whether it’s me or somebody else doesn’t really matter.”

He said he was reassured that John Boynton was “the right guy for this” when he saw The Bradford Mill, a former furniture factory in West Concord, Mass., that the Boyntons transformed into a home for what they describe as “a dynamic community of creative entrepreneurial businesses, nonprofits … and artists.”

“He’s got experience, and he’s got an interest in our village,” Shaw said of Boynton. “And he may well see the project through better and faster than I could have.”

The Boyntons formed Rising Tide Partners (RTP) in 2014 to “help make the rebirth of Main Street NEH a reality.”

According to the RTP website, the 131 Main St. lot “has the potential for both housing and retail” and that “plans are under development.”

RTP also is planning a three-story building on the vacant lot at 145 Main St., the former site of the Wingspread Gallery building, which was destroyed by fire in 2008.

“Current plans call for a retail space or restaurant on the first floor and four to six rental apartments above,” according to the RTP website.

Last year, the Boyntons opened 123, which they described as a “food hub,” at 123 Main St. Open in the summer, it offers sandwiches, soups, salads, ice cream and family dinners. It also can be booked for private parties.

Upstairs above 123 is a co-working space called The Wheelhouse.

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

Latest posts by Dick Broom (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.