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Witham Family Partnership, Owners of 10 Bar Harbor, Maine Hotels,
Propose New 103-room Property

Working with DBL Enterprises, Plans Call for Redevelopment of Former Nursing Home Site

By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News, MaineMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 04, 2013--BAR HARBOR, Maine -- Fresh on the heels of a four-story hotel opening this year in downtown Bar Harbor, another is proposed for a former local nursing home site.

The Witham Family Partnership is working with DBL Enterprises to redevelop the former Summit House property at the end of Norman Drive. The Witham Family Partnership is headed by hotelier David J. Witham, who owns or co-owns 10 other hotel properties in Bar Harbor, three in Ellsworth and one in Hancock.

Another large hotel -- the West Street Hotel -- opened for business in downtown Bar Harbor this past summer. The West Street Hotel, which has 85 rooms and overlooks the harbor, is owned and operated by Ocean Properties Ltd., a rival hotel firm to Witham's business.

David C. Witham, a representative of the family partnership and David J. Witham's son, said Thursday that the firm is working with DBL Enterprises to work out details of their partnership on the Norman Road project. DBL Enterprises owns the six-acre property on Norman Drive, which has panoramic views of Acadia National Park to the west and of Frenchman Bay and downtown Bar Harbor to the east.

David C. Witham and an official with Belmont, N.H.-based Opechee Construction met Wednesday night with the local planning board to review whether all the required or requested application materials have been submitted to the town. The board has not yet deliberated over whether to approve the application.

According to application documents, filed in the town's planning office, the existing building, which has been empty for at least the past decade, will be demolished. A new hotel four stories tall and with 103 rooms would be built in the same approximate location as the existing building.

The new building and parking area would take up roughly the same area as the existing building and parking lot, according to project officials. It also would have an outdoor swimming pool, which the lot currently does not have.

The estimated cost of the project is $8.8 million, according to documents.

David C. Witham said Thursday that the hotel, if approved, likely will be a Hampton Inn. Of the 10 hotels in Bar Harbor owned by the partnership or his father, only one -- the Best Western Inn in the local village of Salisbury Cove -- is affiliated with a national lodging chain.

Witham said that because the location of the proposed hotel is out of sight of major roads, having an affiliation with Hampton Inn will help ensure that gets a steady stream of customers during the busy tourist season. The hotel would be open each year from spring through late fall.

"The Summit House isn't easy to find," he said. "You'll need a reservation to get there. [Otherwise], you'd have to have a heck of a website."

He said the developers are hoping to have the hotel approved, constructed and open for business by the spring of 2014.

Follow BDN reporter Bill Trotter on Twitter at @billtrotter.


(c)2013 the Bangor Daily News (Bangor, Maine)

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