High Street in Ellsworth is pictured in this 2019 file photo. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

A new retail building that is expected to house franchises for a coffee chain and a sub sandwich shop is being planned for an undeveloped site in the middle of Ellsworth.

The building would be constructed on High Street in front of the Hampton Inn, on a vacant lot next to Walgreens. The lot has been uninhabited since a Maine Department of Transportation office building on the site was demolished in the 2000s.

Details on who the specific tenants would be have not been released, but according to an official behind the project the building would have a coffee shop with a patio and a drive-thru window, a smaller abutting sub sandwich shop, and an adjacent general retail space.

“I believe we have tentative tenants,” Matt Bombaci, a project manager for development and site design firm Bohler, told the city’s planning board. “You can probably guess who they are. My understanding is they are new to the area.”

Also listed as a developer in preliminary project documents filed with the city is Michigan-based Alrig USA Acquisitions, which has more than 60 retail developments in the South, Midwest and Northeast — including properties in Bangor, Waterville and Ellsworth.

Included in those 60-plus retail sites are 14 Starbucks stores, according to Alrig’s website.

ellsworth business development

Bombaci, who works out of Bohler’s office in Southborough, Massachusetts, did not return a voicemail message on Friday.

Bombaci and Bill Bray, a consulting traffic engineer from Portland, met Wednesday with the city’s planning board to present and get feedback on a few preliminary details on the project, which still is early in the planning stages.

They expect the coffee shop to draw a decent amount of car traffic at its drive-through window, which will wrap around the back of the building and have room for up to approximately a dozen vehicles, Bombaci said.

“We’ve found more and more these days that car queues are getting longer and longer,” Bombaci said.

If the line exceeds 12 vehicles, it would extend backwards into the front parking lot for the building, not into any road or shared driveway, he said. The developer plans to submit an application for a traffic movement permit to Maine Department of Transportation because of the amount of vehicles they expect will come and go from the site.

Bombaci said they also plan to include pedestrian access to and from the building site from the sidewalk on High Street.

Ellsworth already has a few other drive-thru coffee options. There are two Dunkin drive-thru locations in the city — one by the Mill Mall and another at the intersection of Beechland Crossing and Route 3 — and a third Dunkin inside the Walmart on Myrick Street.

ellsworth development

At the Maine Coast Mall, on the opposite side of High Street from the proposed development, is an Aroma Joe’s, which only offers drive-thru service.

The developers will have to submit more complete plans and meet with the board at least once again, though likely twice more, before the board decides whether to approve the proposal.

Matthew Williams, Ellsworth’s city planner, said he is not sure when the developers will submit their complete plans to the city and reappear before the board. He said he expects it may take some time for the developer to come up with a suitable traffic flow plan in and out of the site.

“It will be a little while before they come back,” Williams said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....