Holmes Hall was built is an agricultural experiment station in 1888. Credit: Courtesy of the Society of Architectural Historians via the University of Maine

A Chicago-based investment firm and a Pennsylvania-based real estate developer have formed a partnership through which they will renovate two historic buildings on the University of Maine campus in Orono into a boutique hotel.

Harrison Street, the investment firm, said Thursday that it has formed a joint venture with Radnor Property Group LLC to turn Coburn and Holmes halls into a campus hotel.

The project to turn the buildings, which stand just yards apart from each other, is expected to cost $28 million, an increase from last year’s estimate of about $17.2 million. UMaine has agreed to contribute $3 million toward the project if the developers can’t obtain new market tax credits intended to defray upfront capital costs, according to UMaine spokesperson Margaret Nagle.

Coburn and Holmes halls were constructed in 1888, but have not been used by the university in 15 years. The renovation would turn the halls into a 95-room hotel with a bistro cafe. The project will break ground this fall, and is expected to be completed in 2024. 

Once the hotel is functional, the property will be operated by Portland-based Olympia Hotel Management. UMaine would receive annual rent of $37,500 starting in the hotel’s third year, 2026, and that amount will rise by 5 percent every five years, Nagle said.

Holmes Hall was built as an agricultural experiment station, while Coburn Hall originally contained a natural history museum, library, classrooms and administrative offices. Both were designed with a Romanesque Revival structure by architect Frank E. Kidder, who was known for his 1885 publication of “The Architects’ and Builders’ Pocket-book.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the partnership and funding arrangement.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.