BAR HARBOR, Maine — A new lodging business is under construction in a prominent downtown location where run-down buildings once stood but it’s uncertain when it will open or what it will be called.
Construction began in earnest in recent weeks on the 45-room inn, which under the town’s ordinances is technically considered a bed and breakfast, as the town’s annual tourist season wound down. Workers have been digging the inn’s foundation, and blasting away bedrock, for a drive-in basement parking garage with 45 spaces — one spot for each guest room.
The development, which will revive a dormant commercial property in the center of the busy downtown village, comes as the number of tourists to Bar Harbor has surged in the past two years.
The warning whistles and blasts at the project site have punctuated working hours at the western end of Cottage Street, where the new inn is being erected next to the town’s municipal building and directly across the street from Jordan’s Restaurant.
Stephen Coston, one of the two owners behind the project, said he and his partner Brian Shaw are not sure they’ll be able to open in time for next year’s tourist season.
“That’s the million dollar question,” Coston said. “We hope to open in 2023.”
Coston, who owns several other B&Bs and inns in Bar Harbor, is not required by the town to have on-site parking at the new inn because of its land use classification. But, with downtown parking hard to come by during Bar Harbor’s busy summers, the inn would not succeed without it, he said.
“I’m not building a lodging business without parking,” he said “We’d be crucified.”
The inn will have three floors of guest rooms with 10 guest rooms, a lobby, and a restaurant on the first floor and the remaining rooms on the second and third floors. Coston said the cost of breakfast at the inn will be included in the price guests pay but that the restaurant will be open to the public for lunch and dinner.
The owners plan to run the inn and restaurant year-round, even though many other businesses and hotels close from November until April. They are leaning toward naming it The Pathmaker, in homage to the trails of adjacent Acadia National Park, though Coston said there is a chance they might change their minds. He said he is not sure if the restaurant will have a separate name or not.
For many years, the site was home to a large dilapidated garage that was demolished nine years ago after heavy snow made part of the roof cave in. Another adjacent barn-style building also was considered unsafe and was demolished in 2019.
Part of the new inn also will occupy a former house lot on Summer Street, which runs parallel to Cottage Street, where a derelict house also had drawn the town’s attention before it was taken down. The entrance to the basement garage will be on the Summer Street site.