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July 31, 2018

Renovated Stonington building offers commercial space with flexible terms

The renovation of a downtown Stonington building has made three ground-floor commercial spaces available, along with two upper-floor apartments.

Island Advantages reported that Colie O'Donnell, owner of Spruce Island, bought the building at the end of 2016 so that he could use the parking area to load people on his amphibious boat and take them out to his island rental property. Old Quarry Ocean Adventures uses one space as a satellite location for its Oceanville business.

O'Donnell told the newspaper he recognizes the town's seasonal economy presents challenges for small business owners and says he is flexible on the rent and terms for the spaces.

O'Donnell offers the 80-acre Spruce Island, with a single stone house, as a rental on VRBO. The listing says the advantage of his amphibious Sealegs boat is that it can drive out of the water and set down on the ground like a camel for easy and safe loading and unloading.

In June 2017, Spruce Island was included in a CNN feature about private island retreats. O'Donnell bought the island in 1986. A vacation there is reminiscent of summer camp, CNN said.

Flexible rents in downtown Stonington could help alleviate a worsening problem in Stonington and Deer Isle, as young working families find themselves priced out of the island's housing market. In June, Island Advantages reported the issue has gotten worse as existing housing shifts from year-round to seasonal or short-term rentals. Deer Isle and Stonington have reconvened the dormant Island Community Housing group to address affordable workforce housing issues.

Stonington has been undergoing other renovations this year. In March, Island Advantages reported the Stonington Lobster Co-op has torn down a 50-year-old lobster hatchery to make way for a new office building, with plans to tear down the co-op's existing office building and add parking.

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