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January 22, 2024

Hotel development underway for 19th-century building, adjacent lot in Kittery

rendering of 2 buildngs and stone wall Courtesy / Winter Holben Foreside Inn in Kittery will include redesign of a 19th-century building, right, and new construction on an adjacent parcel.

A project estimated at $3 million to $4 million is underway to redevelop two lots in Kittery into a boutique inn.

Plans for Foreside Inn were unanimously approved by the Kittery Planning Board last month.

Winter Holben, an architecture and design firm in Kittery, working with its clients at Madbury Real Estate Ventures and other project team members, designed two buildings on two adjacent properties at 27 and 29 Wentworth St.

2 people at counter in bar
Wife-and-husband team Elisa Winter Holben and Brandon Holben, of Kittery architecture and design firm Winter Holben, are leading the design of Foreside Inn in Kittery. They’re seen here at their project Great Rhythm Brewing Co. in Portsmouth, N.H.

Formerly occupying 29 Wentworth St. was Enchanted Nights Bed & Breakfast. The building dates to 1890.

“We have been invested in Kittery Foreside for a long time and are excited to develop a boutique inn that offers a different level of experience than is currently available in the market,” said Taylor McMaster, Madbury’s managing partner. 

Winter Holben is providing architecture, interior design and branding services. The project team also includes Altus Engineering in Portsmouth, N.H., and Woodburn & Co. Landscape Architecture in Newmarket, N.H.

Investment opportunity

Madbury Real Estate Ventures is one of three operating companies with Madbury Capital, a private investment firm headquartered in Wakefield, Mass., and specializing in renewable energy and real estate, according to its website.

person in plaid blazer
Courtesy / Madbury Real Estate Ventures
Taylor McMaster

Madbury Real Estate Ventures is a developer, owner and property manager of boutique hotels, short-term rental properties and student housing in New England. The firm's portfolio includes about 10 short-term rental properties in Maine and New Hampshire, an inn in Salem, Mass., and an inn in Rockport, Mass., that’s in development, also with Winter Holben.

Madbury already has properties in Kittery Foreside, including a multifamily and commercial buildings.

Enchanted Night had been operating as a hotel for over 30 years, until the property transferred to Madbury last August, according to McMaster.

“This is property we had our eyes on for a long time,” he said. “We love the Kittery Foreside area and saw this in as a great opportunity for investment.”

Advantages of the location, he said, include proximity to the downtown neighborhood, which is known as Kittery Foreside. The area includes coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants and is directly across the Piscataqua River from downtown Portsmouth.

Seamless tech

A feature of the inn will be a touchless technology system.

“We will have innkeepers on site, but we’ll take a modern approach with the way the system operates,” said McMaster, citing features such as check-in and keyless access via mobile app.

“For guests, it’s a modern take,” said McMaster. “They don’t have to call or go to the front desk. There’s no pickling up a key card. The whole thing happens seamlessly through the phone.”

For Madbury, the technology facilitates property management through remote operations and reduces onsite staffing, he said.

A priority for Madbury was to find a design team based in Kittery. Winter Holben fit the bill.

“They have a great reputation,” said McMaster. 

Financing for the expected project cost of $3 million to $4 million comes from Madbury Capital and Kennebunk Savings Bank.

Traditional with contemporary

The two lots total about half an acre. The project includes an extensive renovation of the original 1890 building at 29 Wentworth St. The building includes a prominent turret that will be modified as a feature.

An adjacent building at 27 Wentworth St. will be demolished and a larger inn building will go up. The second building will occupy a similar placement and scale as a previous inn structure that burned in a fire in 2002. The saltbox form of the second building will be nestled into the site’s somewhat steep grade. 

Site design includes an elevated lawn area for infiltration with a series of drainage swales to control the water runoff. 

The design will mix traditional building details with contemporary elements in keeping with the character of the Foreside, said Brandon Holben, a principal architect with Winter Holben.

Each inn building will contain 12 rooms and an innkeeper suite that share a similar mix of materials and design features. 

The project could break ground in early February, said McMaster. Construction is anticipated to take 12 months.

“Overall, the idea is to have a contemporary approach to the inn, but still use some traditional details and materials to tie it into the neighborhood,” said Elisa Winter Holben, Winter Holben’s principal and CEO. “That’s what we feel is the heart of the Foreside vibe.”

She continued, “Foreside itself is an eclectic mix of building types and construction. It has this really unique character. So we were trying to celebrate that with a mix of approaches to the design.”

That includes elements that evoke the working waterfront and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, along with artist-crafted materials.

“We want it to have that Maine feeling,” she said.

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