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Updated: July 12, 2021

Another Kennebunkport resort proposed for major renovation

inn COURTESY / DAIGLE COMMERCIAL GROUP A plan to renovate Ocean Woods Resort in Kennebunkport, seen here, proved infeasible. The property is now proposed for a complete makeover with small cottages and a new restaurant.

A wave of enthusiasm appears to be underway for hotel redevelopment in Kennebunkport.

Lark Hotels has redeveloped and rebranded a number of inns there, including the Kennebunkport Captains Collection. And a major redevelopment project is proposed at the historic Colony Hotel.

Developer Tim Harrington has built or redeveloped a number of lodgings there, including a portfolio called the Kennebunkport Resort Collection that was in turn acquired in February 2020 by New York investment firm EOS Investors LLC, with Harrington as a partner.

Now Harrington and his partnership, operating under the name Ocean Woods Resort Owner LLC, have an application before the Kennebunkport Planning Board to redevelop Ocean Woods Resort, a property the partnership acquired in an off-market deal in February 2020.

The resort, at 71 Dyke Road in the Goose Rocks Beach area, takes up 2.36 acres within a 10.41-acre lot. The site is bounded by Dyke Road, a wooded area, a stream and a residential lot. 

Originally called the Inn at Goose Rocks when it opened in 1984, it had been run seasonally by the previous owners.

Complete reconfiguration

A proposal, now in the initial review stage, calls for a complete reconfiguration of the property.

The original plan was to renovate the existing building and site, but that changed after a site review, according to an April 15 memo from Stephen Doe, a senior project manager with Sebago Technics, the project's agent. 

“After extensive design and pricing exercises, it was determined that the cost to renovate the building and site was too costly and would not yield a project suitable for today’s needs,” the memo says. “After further discussions with the town, the owners have decided to demolish the existing building and in turn do a complete reconstruction of the resort to meet today’s market and conditions and in turn upgrade all site utilities.”

After consultation with the town, it was determined that new structures could be built as long as they didn’t exceed the existing footprint, number of bedrooms or number of restaurant seats, Doe said during the planning board’s recent virtual meeting.

The existing two-story resort has 49 bedrooms with a restaurant that has a capacity of 108 to 110 seats, a pub and an outdoor in-ground pool. The facility has 51 parking spaces. 

The proposal calls for demolition of the existing hotel and replacing it with a one-story, 88-seat restaurant and pool, plus 30 individual one- and two-bedroom cottages for a total of 43 bedrooms. The cottages would have living and dining rooms, kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, side decks and outdoor showers.

The parking area would be reconfigured to create 68 parking spaces and a new main entrance. The existing driveway would be used for service and employee vehicles.

Courtesy / Sebago Technics
This preliminary sketch shows 30 cottages and a larger restaurant building to the left, proposed for the Ocean Woods Resort property.

The total square footage of the new project will be smaller than the existing footprint, Doe said.

Guests would be provided with golf carts to get around the campus. “This will limit extensive infrastructure and minimize impervious surfaces,” the application says.

Individual cottages

The units will be set up as individual cottages, “which given COVID these should be more desirable for safety for guests,” Doe wrote in a separate letter to the town. 

Landscaping would use native species such as dune grasses, pines and birches to minimize fertilizer and maintenance, he said.

The project will require a stormwater permit from the Department of Environmental Protection and a permit for an engineered septic system from the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Construction is anticipated to begin upon receipt of all approvals, with completion planned for spring 2022.

An “oddity” of the property is that it was set up under a condominium ownership in the late 1970s or early 1980s, despite the fact that it’s always run as a resort and has always been under a single ownership, the project’s attorney, Ralph Austin of Woodman Edmands Danylik Austin Smith & Jacques in Biddeford, told the board.

Ocean Woods Resort Owner LLC has brought the situation to the Kennebunkport Zoning Board of Appeals to have the condominium permit terminated, he said. 

Planning Board member Nina Pearlmutter said the matter needed clarification, since the use of the property as an inn might have been improper under the condominium designation and would therefore be improper to grandfather into a redevelopment as a resort

Another board member, Edward Francis, said he was concerned the size of the proposed restaurant might not be justified by the existing restaurant, which appeared to be more of an event space with a catering kitchen.

Austin and Doe said they would look into the issues.

The board said it will next conduct a site walk before the next stage of the review.

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