|By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News,
MaineMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
September 18, 2010 --BAR HARBOR, Maine -- A local hotel owner is continuing his buying spree with the purchase of two more motel properties in Bar Harbor's downtown village.
David Witham, who bought four other local lodging properties in 2008 and 2009, recently became the owner of the Rockhurst Motel at 68 Mount Desert St. Earlier this year, Witham also added the Villager Motel at 207 Main St. in Bar Harbor to his portfolio.
Witham's acquisition of the Rockhurst Motel earlier this month follows the recent purchase this summer of an adjacent inn by a rival hotel owner.
The Ledgelawn Inn, located at 66 Mount Desert St., was purchased out of bankruptcy a few months ago for an undisclosed price by Ocean Properties Ltd. Ocean Properties, which is owned by Bangor native Thomas Walsh and his family, owns more than 100 hotel and resort properties in North America, including five in Bar Harbor and six others elsewhere in Maine.
Ocean Properties has received approval from local officials to construct a new $12 million hotel on West Street, but Witham is pursuing an appeal of that approval in Hancock County Superior Court. Ocean Properties plans to begin work on the new hotel this winter.
With the purchase of the Rockhurst Motel, Witham now has ownership stakes in nine lodging properties in Bar Harbor and a total of 13 in Hancock County.
In an e-mail, Witham wrote Friday that he plans to rename the Rockhurst Motel the Aurora Motel, and to pair it with his nearby Aurora Inn. Both properties will be managed by the Aurora Inn manager, he said.
With the purchase, he said, he'll be able to expand the living quarters for the Aurora Inn manager and his wife, who is the general manager of the Quality Inn, another Witham property that is located around the corner on Kebo Street. He says he plans to renovate the Rockhurst Motel this winter.
Witham declined to comment on Walsh's recent purchase of the Ledgelawn Inn.
As for the Villager Motel, Witham said he plans to keep it as it is.
"I consider the Villager Motel to be a sound investment in that it is uniquely positioned in the Bar Harbor market as a mid-priced hotel with a great in-town location and very nice rooms," Witham said in the e-mail.
He said the Villager has strong repeat business from customers that come back each year and the only changes planned for the property are upgrades to in-room amenities that were made earlier this summer.
Witham said the purchase prices for each property were "very close" to the town's assessed values. Bar Harbor's assessed value for the 63-room Villager Motel, which is used only to determine the property's tax value, is nearly $2 million. The assessed value of the 12-room Rockhurst Motel is $718,100.
Witham's other Bar Harbor properties include the Bar Harbor Inn, Atlantic Oceanside Hotel and Conference Center, the Grand Hotel, Acadia Inn, and Best Western Acadia Park Inn. He also owns or co-owns the Ramada Inn, the Hampton Inn, the Comfort Inn, all in Ellsworth, and the Knights Inn just across the Ellsworth city line in Hancock.
The total number of rooms in all of those hotels is more than 1,000. The cumulative assessed values for all the properties is estimated to be more than $50 million.
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