UPDATED: New 65-room hotel planned for Rockland's waterfront

Architect: 'Evokes style of grand hotels of 100 years ago'
By Daniel Dunkle | Feb 05, 2014
Source: Stuart Smith An artist's rendition of the proposed inn as seen from the Rockland Public Landing.

Rockland — Plans for a 65-room hotel overlooking Rockland Harbor and the boardwalk near Boston Financial have been submitted to the Rockland Code Office.

Stuart Smith, of Rockland Harbor Park, LLC., submitted the proposal Feb. 3. He said it will be called the Rockland Harbor Park Inn.

The project is expected to cost about $6.5 million, Smith said.

Architect John Hansen said Wednesday, Feb. 5, as he was working on drawings for the project, that this will be a luxury hotel.

"It evokes the style of the grand hotels of 100 to 150 years ago," he said.

He said the goal is to create something that will look like it belongs on the waterfront, to attract people and serve as an asset to the community.

The proposal calls for the hotel to be constructed along Ocean Street, which is the area adjacent to the gazebo next to the boardwalk on the waterfront. (It is listed as part of the property at 12 Water Street in paperwork on file at the Code Enforcement Office). The gazebo would be moved toward Boston Financial as part of the plans.

The building will be built out from the slope along the harbor and will appear to have varying heights depending on where you are standing, according to Bill Lane of Gartley & Dorsky Engineering, which provided drawings for the project. He said it will be as high as four stories in places.

The project also includes converting the former Amalfi on the Water restaurant, which was located in the bottom floor of the Boston Financial building, into a fitness center and daycare.

In total, it is estimated 27 employees would be needed for the hotel and eight for the fitness center and daycare.

On Tuesday, Feb. 11, at 5:15 p.m., the Planning Board is expected to have a pre-application meeting on the project.

Smith said the inn will be open year-round and will be a family-owned and operated business.

Smith is also the owner of the Breakwater Marketplace on Camden Street, Maine Sport in Rockport, the Grand Harbor Inn in Camden and Lord Camden Inn, along with several other area properties.

He said the rooms in the Rockland Harbor Park Inn will be similar to those in the other two inns he and his wife, Marianne, own. These will not be the typical rooms seen in chain hotels, he said.

Smith said he sees the inn becoming an integral part of the community, drawing guests for a week or more at a time. It is located close to the downtown and would allow guests an opportunity to walk to the city's shops, museums, galleries and restaurants.

He also stressed that the public will still have access to the boardwalk and water. In fact, he expects some enhancements to the boardwalk including new benches and seating. Since the inn will be open year-round, he said going forward snow will be cleared from the boardwalk to allow full access.

He said he sees a demand in the community for hotel rooms, especially during Rockland's summer festivals including the North Atlantic Blues Festival, Maine Boats Homes & Harbors and the Lobster Festival. During those events, he has seen demand for rooms in his Camden inns rise.

Smith said there are no plans to include a public restaurant in the inn, but it will serve breakfast to guests.

Lane said the construction of the hotel may be planned for the off-season, perhaps in fall, to minimize disruption to other activities in the area during the busy spring and summer tourist season.

He anticipates work on converting the restaurant space will start before work on the hotel itself.

Smith said construction may start in the late fall, but that depends on its approval at planning board.

In addition to Planning Board approval, the project will require approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to modify an existing permit.

Rockland Harbor Park, LLC owns the property.

This drawing shows the proposed 65-room hotel overlooking Rockland Harbor and the boardwalk. The new hotel is drawn near the center. Boston Financial is on the far right and Archer's on the Pier is at bottom left. (Source: Gartley & Dorsky)
Comments (30)
Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 18, 2014 23:05

Smith said he will meet with neighbors and interested community members Feb. 26 at the former Amalfi in the Boston Financial building at 5:30 p.m. to answer questions about the project.

Posted by: Amy Files | Feb 18, 2014 17:09

Hi all - could someone please repost (Dan Dunkle?) the date and time for Mr. Smith's public meeting? I thought it was in the news article(s) but can't seem to find the information anymore...

Whether you support the project or not it's great to have public involvement/comment - and it's important that people know about these meetings - that the information is published and easy to find.

Posted by: Ben Ellison | Feb 09, 2014 13:54

The Boardwalk may be over inter-tidal land but I believe it's considered a wharf and access to it is at the pleasure of the land owners.


But the Colonial ordinance Kathryn mentioned is certainly worth knowing about. Apparently the Mass. government back then was trying to encourage shore owners to build piers and wharves, which is why they gave landowners rights to the low tide line that don't exist in old England or any of the 47 other states. So outside MA, NH, and ME the citizens own the intertidal land and give abutters permission to build piers and so forth.



We're back to the permitting process here and I'm sure that boardwalk wharf required several. But we also have the strange situation where some shore owners are claiming that the public can't even walk on "their" intertidal area... unless they're carrying a fishing pole or birding gun, or maybe dragging a small boat.


It seems pretty obvious that the colonial lawmakers would have included non-permanent recreational uses like hiking and picnicking in their list of public rights if they'd been able to picture the future better. I'm hoping the Maine court system will eventually agree. Apparently the Mass. Attorney General has already said that bird watching fits into "birding" and you don't need much equipment for that ;-)

Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Feb 09, 2014 12:22

In reference to the Maine Supreme Court's recent ruling on the Goose Rock Beach Case, the Maine Sunday Telegram on February 9 staff Kevin Miller writes:

"Adopted by the Massachusetts Colonial government between 1641 and 1647, the so-called “Colonial Ordinance” grants any “householder” unrestricted access to the intertidal area between the high and low tide marks for “fishing, fowling and navigation.”

Maine courts have interpreted the “fishing, fowling and navigation” language quite literally, meaning today’s beach-goers have no right to use the intertidal area for other pursuits without the landowner’s permission."

How might this affect future access to the Boardwalk?  Who would own that section of the Boardwalk?  Would access continue to be allowed?


Posted by: John Snow | Feb 07, 2014 08:40

I guess it all comes down to how one measures progress---what is the metric used?  For some, these large, highly visible projects fit the bill, and undoubtedly this will create some jobs, especially in summer.  But I've often thought of our community as a sort of junkie---we get a huge rush from the summer 'fix', then we stagger through the winter, waiting for the next one.  Amy Files makes some great points about a different metric, less splashy but arguably more sustainable and beneficial on a year-round basis.  I'm not opposed to this project, I just hope the powers that be keep both metrics in mind as they imagine our future.

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Feb 07, 2014 08:01

I'm not opposed to this project. I grew up on State Street and know as a child we never had access to that property. Take a good look at some of the rental properties. The place next door to me is a disgrace. Fulton Street has some real winners residing on it. This looks like an improvement to me. As far as being a fishing village goes, for the most part it has gone. People have come and gone from Rockland as long as I can remember. If you move anywhere and try to fit in you will. If you think you are wiser or more worldly you will be resented. I remember a person telling me they lived in "South Rockland". I was supposed to be impressed by that moniker. My thoughts were Rockland is eleven square miles and where there is reference to north and south there is no South Rockland. For me what it boils down to is if I'm treated as an equal so will you. If you move here leave your pretentiousness behind or you will meet resistance. This isn't aimed at anyone in particular just my opinion. I know Mr Smith as a customer when I worked retail and he was always respectful. I don't think there's any hidden agenda. I am more surprised that Mr Smith would want to invest here. I don't see this opening up the flood gates.

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 07, 2014 05:27

K F: Thanks for your note.  RE "development of the waterfront needs careful consideration." Exactly my point. This is not just another piece of real estate by it is part of OUR waterfront. Sure enough, it is private property up to the head of tide but you did touch on the issue of access to the water. Even if the land deed includes the intertidal, it is US the People of Maine that own all living marine resources and have free and unrestricted access to navigation, fishing, fowling and recreation [pls read ME MRSA]

Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Feb 07, 2014 01:00

The differing opinions expressed here show that the development of the waterfront needs careful consideration.  While we think we own the land, we are only temporary caretakers.  We are given permission to walk our wonderful boardwalk, not by the town, but by the people who have deeds to the land.  This permission can also be taken away.  As temporary caretakers, we need to insure that access to the water is reserved for the public and that future generations are not shut out by private ownership.  I am not implying that this is planned in any way by current plans but that things can change in the future. Wording in property exchange is very important so that careful thought be given to protect not only today, but the tomorrows of all our people.

Posted by: ALBERT E COLSON | Feb 06, 2014 21:21

We need all the tax paying business we can get in Rockland ,and a beautiful new Hotel or Condo will not affect our town except in a positive way. When people come to see all the non-profit art work in Rockland they will have a place close by to stay at. I love Rockland and have lived here 54 years and I think this will be a beautiful improvement to our city. Joan

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Feb 06, 2014 21:16

Mr. Myslabodkski I came to Maine for the first time in 1960 while I was stationed in Newport, RI in the US Navy but I was only at the Brunswick NAS and for only a week.  I fell in love with Maine and knew one day I would move here. I love all seafood EXCEPT LOBSTER and I would like to know what a working waterfront looks like and how could it be brought back. Since I moved her in 2006 I hear about troubles the lobster fishermen are having, quotas on certain fish, and fish being sent to Canada to be processed but honestly I don't know enough about this so I need to be educated.  What would a working waterfront look like and what would need to be done to bring it back if it could be brought back.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Feb 06, 2014 20:54

Mr. Merriam can you prove that our property taxes will increase if this hotel is built.  Can you show some kind of documentation to prove your belief that the hotel will increase our property tax.  I do not believe that our property tax will increase if this hotel is built.  I do know that people who stay in the hotel rooms will be charged a tax on the room but I believe that that tax money goes to the state. Although I am not sure I would think that the hotel would have to pay some kind of property tax to Rockland.  If some can clarify that I would appreciate an answer.   RSU-13 IS THE ONE WHO SOCKS US WITH INCREASED REAL ESTATE TAX but I can't see where this hotel will increase our property tax and I would like proof that our real estate taxes will increase because of the hotel.

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 06, 2014 19:16

A different point of view . . .  Progress does not have to involve "High-Tech" or any other fancy-shmancy buzz-word of the day. How many new biz in Maine depend on Old-Fashion small family-owned [and run] farms? What bothers me [a lot!] is that I have a hard-time trying to remember when was the last time the powers-to-be discussed how to, not only, preserve but bring back Rockland as a fisheries town? Sure enough we do not need the "Old Rockland Aroma" That BTW was caused by a fish-meal plant owned by a large out-of-state corporation. Let us try to preserve Rockland's character that includes a working waterfront.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Feb 06, 2014 18:21

Watch the city council approve this hotel project and all other planned and future businesses along Rockland's shoreline. While the town needs to generate taxes, it does not appear to be proactive, rather reactive. Furthermore, residents in family neighborhoods will find themselves overlooked and looking over four or more storied buildings as they pay increased property taxes for the privilege.

Posted by: Denise Rene' Ames | Feb 06, 2014 16:15

Awesome news ! Progress of this kind is a step forward !


Posted by: Amy Files | Feb 06, 2014 16:12

I appreciate that there are people who have grown up here and chose to stay here. I think it's important to value all of our experiences.

But all this talk about "were you born here"? — is really unproductive.

I chose to move here and my property tax dollars and the income that I bring to this town (and keep in this town by shopping at our local shops and stores) is JUST as important as anyone else's. And I would argue - that the sum of all the people who are moving here, just like myself, and who care about this town, is more important than one or two big - character-changing - construction projects.

We didn't move here to see hi-rise hotels or large behemoth buildings go into this town. I love where I live because it's only a 5-minute walk from the beach and I can enjoy the beautiful view of our working harbor as I walk there - a view which will be completely blocked by this new hotel proposal.

It's damned if you do and damned if you don't. If I was for the proposal - it's because I'm from "Away" and want to change the place. If I'm against the proposal it's because I'm from "Away" and don't understand the direction we're moving in.

We have all heard the news: news articles and talk about how Maine NEEDS to attract NEW and YOUNGER people - BUSINESSES and TECHNOLOGY.

Notice that you don't hear "Maine needs to attract more tourists."

I am one of those NEW people that Rockland was successful in attracting. I bought a home - hire local contractors to fix it up - improve the neighborhood - am starting my business here - and then return most any of the $ I make right back to our local businesses through my purchases.

And I am concerned about these new projects because I think it is old-fashioned, outdated thinking to assume that a large new project - based solely in tourism - is the only way to bring money here.

We need to support the NEW ECONOMY = small local businesses, small telecommuting tech companies, new year-round industry. I may not be a big hotel project but my business, and the others who are moving to town, all add up to one BIG resource for both income and energy for this town.

Posted by: VALERIE ANN ORR | Feb 06, 2014 10:54



Posted by: Jacob Newcomb | Feb 06, 2014 10:44

Thank you Susan.  I wanted to know why people were so against condos but didn't dare ask after causing other turmoil.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Feb 06, 2014 10:41

I do not believe this is a CONDO project disguised as a HOTEL but what if it is?  Many people, if they could afford it, would love to live in a CONDO with a water view, a nice boardwalk to stroll on, be near town, etc.  People who live in CONDO'S pay real estate taxes so Rockland would benefit.  I was not born in Maine but moved here in 2006 and my only complaint about Rockland is the OUTRAGEOUSLY HIGH REAL ESTATE TAXES BECAUSE OF RSU-13 and the gang of thieves and Keystone Cops who run RSU13.

Posted by: Jacob Newcomb | Feb 06, 2014 09:57

You are correct, and the spirit of my comment was not reflected in that I should have said not "just" a scene of primitive toil.

Born and raised in the area, and I have seen Rockland before MBNA.  Go back just 20 years and you will find a different town.  New developments should not be something to run from.  We can have a nice hotel on the water (not sure why it has taken so long to come up with the idea) without wrecking our tradition.  In fact, the coexistence of these two ideals is what makes Rockland the coolest little town this side of Portland.  In fact Rockland and Portland have a lot in common.

Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 06, 2014 09:53

Try not to take things too personal but do take offense to the comment "primitive toil". Sure enough I am a transplant but with a difference. I came to Rockland to get integrated into its working waterfront and am trying to preserve Rockland as a fishing town.  Remember when we used to take a natural resource and add value to it? Some people would not mind Rockland becoming another Bar Harbor and the heck with those stinking fishermen/women . .


Posted by: Jacob Newcomb | Feb 06, 2014 09:20

Just out of curiosity, out of those who are opposed to this idea how many of you:

a.  were not born in Rockland? (or the area)

b.  were not born in Maine?

c.  do not remember what the harbor looked like before MBNA moved in?

d.  are just mad or nervous because you don't want to see any development that resembles anything like where you came from.


Rockland is growing and improving.  This could be a part of that.  Rockland/Maine is NOT a scene of primitive toil anymore!  Move forward!


Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Feb 06, 2014 08:28

RE "If the new hotel struggled to keep afloat, would it turn into condos and would we want that?"

No, WE do not want to become a condo neighborhood, but just think for a moment that the "hotel" plan is just camouflage so the Council and the people of Rockland accept this project. As pointed out, other properties are struggling. Visitors to the Boats Homes and Harbors fest may be interested in a "high end" hotel. Visitors to the Blues an Lobster feat are not. This is a CONDO project being disguised as an hotel . . .

Posted by: Robert M Rosenberg | Feb 06, 2014 06:40

Too bad to lose another open space with a beautiful view. We already have three struggling hotels in the area (including the Samo)

Posted by: Kathryn Fogg | Feb 05, 2014 23:08

The Smiths are well experienced in the hotel business and the property has the space.  What I do wonder about is occupancy in this economy. The Navigator is turning rooms into condos and the Samoset has been closed the past few winters.  If the new hotel struggled to keep afloat, would it turn into condos and would we want that?


Posted by: glen r thompson | Feb 05, 2014 19:38


Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Feb 05, 2014 17:22

This project will have an enormous impact on residential neighborhoods and its residents who will still have to pay high property taxes for the view of the back of a hotel vs. their former view of the Atlantic.

Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Feb 05, 2014 16:21

The drawing of this hotel is beautiful. Can you imagine staying in one of the rooms overlooking Rockland Harbor?  HOW BEAUTIFUL THE VIEW.

Posted by: Valerie Wass | Feb 05, 2014 15:27

AWESOME!!!!  Sure hope that the city government looks at this with open eyes and realizes that this is what Rockland needs in order to survive.  No more non profit.  We tax base business owners not only to help with the burden of our property taxes but also this allows for employment within our city, year round.  Oh the possibilities if this happens.  Kudos Mr. Smith and some of us have your back in going forward with your project.


Posted by: Susan P Reitman | Feb 05, 2014 12:12

Now this is a hotel that should be built in Rockland!  I hope this project moves forward.

Posted by: Sumner Kinney | Feb 05, 2014 10:03

Great News!  This area is indebted to the Smith's for their keen insight and business acumen.

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