York, Kennebunk, Wells projects coming in ’24: New homes, hotel, more
Shawn P. Sullivan and Max Sullivan
New homes are expected to start popping up in three new neighborhoods in Kennebunk, while a new municipal campus will begin to take shape in Ogunquit, and efforts to expand the Eastern Trail through Wells will make progress.
York hotelier Joe Lipton will put the finishing touches on his renovation of the historic Nevada Motel, and the nearby Grand View will seek to add a new eight-unit structure to its growing offering of rooms.
Local referendums could also bring more housing to southern Maine. In Kennebunk, voters will decide the fates of two major proposals, one that would bring more affordable housing units to the community and another that would transform a historic home into a commercial enterprise.
Here is a look at some of the big developments coming in 2024:
Joe Lipton looks to finish Nevada Motel at York Beach
YORK — Joe Lipton and Michelle Friar have finished their work on their high-end rooms at the ViewPoint Hotel overlooking the Nubble. Now, they turn their view to another project long in the works – the renovation of the historic Nevada Motel.
The Nevada was built to look like the flybridge of the U.S.S. Nevada on which the original owner served during World War II. Lipton said the new Nevada will be open in June 2024. He said they have leaned into the building’s history as a motel and enhanced its features rather than replaced them with modern amenities.
“We’re returning with a 1950s-themed hotel, from the art to the wallpaper, the core, every little facet,” Lipton said. “We’re kind of bringing back that vibe, fun, art deco beach scene.”
Lipton said he also plans to open to the public a new outdoor restaurant at his ViewPoint in May. The model is “al fresco,” which is an Italian term that refers to dining “in the fresh air.”
Lipton and Friar, who are married, both grew up in York, Lipton since he was 8, Friar since age 5. Lipton said they strive to revitalize properties they take over to honor the town where they have set their roots as business owners.
“All of these projects are going to be here far longer than I’m going to be alive,” Lipton said. “We want to make sure we’re keeping with the integrity of the town.”
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Houses, houses, and more houses in Kennebunk
KENNEBUNK — Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder said homes finally will be built at three project sites in town in 2024: Wildwood at Terrace Green on Alfred Road, Millstone Farm on Alewive Road, and Wildwood Circle on Downing Road.
Seven homes are slated to be built at Wildwood on Terrace Green in 2024, according to Osterrieder. Chinburg Properties, the developer, cleared its final hurdle with approval from the town’s Site Plan Review Board at the start of this year and spent much of 2023 installing infrastructure at the scene. As you drive past the site, you can see a new sign and a paved road leading into the subdivision, which is hidden behind trees.
Ultimately, the developer will build 43 new homes on the 100-acre property. Once complete, the homes will account for 26 acres, with the remaining 74 dedicated as open space.
Over on Alewive Road, there already are a couple of homes built of the nine that are slated for Millstone Farm, according to Osterrieder. In 2024, a third one, already under construction, will be finished, with more on the way, as well, he added.
“They’re accelerating,” Osterrieder said of the developer. “I expect a lot more activity.”
Lastly, at Wildwood Circle, once known as King’s Meadow, construction will begin on the homes slated for that site, as well. In all, nine new residences are planned, according to Osterrieder.
“My sense is those will build very quickly,” Osterrieder said.
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Inn on the Blues owner looks to expand Grand View Hotel at York Beach
YORK — After restaurateur Jimmy Asprogiannis bought the Inn on the Blues in 2017, he wanted to expand his footprint in other parts of the hospitality industry.
Asprogiannis bought the Grand View Hotel in 2021 and now plans to expand it with a new structure and eight new units.
Plans for the project are with the Planning Board, who Asprogiannis hopes will approve them in 2024. The new units will not be open until 2025, he said, but the construction is hoped to begin in 2024.
“Just really spreading into the hospitality side of the business,” Asprogiannis said.
The Grand View has been at Long Sands Beach for 50 years, according to its website. Asprogiannis believes the hotel market is ripe for growth as other people along the beach improve their properties as well.
“I think the demand is there,” Asprogiannis said. “With all the improvements that are being made at York Beach, everybody’s bringing it up another level.”
Will Kennebunk say yes to inn at Wedding Cake House?
KENNEBUNK — The first Kennebunk Select Board meeting of the new year will be a busy one. On Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Select Board will hold public hearings for two proposed contract zones. Both are for separate projects, unrelated to each other.
One contract zone seeks to allow the historic Wedding Cake House on Summer Street to become an inn and an events venue, where weddings and other gatherings could take place.
The other contract zone would allow two structures, comprising 35 affordable housing units, to be built on land next to the headquarters of Kennebunk Savings, off Alewive Road.
Both proposals generated much discussion during Planning Board meetings and public hearings in 2023. If the Select Board votes on Jan. 9 to advance the proposed contract zones to the annual town meeting, then voters will decide their fates.
If voters approve both proposed contract zones in 2024, then both projects will go through the town’s site plan review process.
Ogunquit’s town campus project to start
OGUNQUIT — The revamping of the Ogunquit municipal campus on School Street is slated to begin in September, according to Town Manager Matthew Buttrick.
Voters approved approximately $12 million in bonding to renovate and reconfigure the campus during the annual town meeting in June.
On the campus, the town plans to demolish but save portions of the vacant Village School, so that it can become the new town hall and Police Department. The Dunaway Center, which currently houses municipal offices and is next door to the school, is slated to return to its original purpose as a community center.
The project at first will focus on the new Police Department and town hall, Buttrick said.
“This phase is anticipated to last about a year, followed by renovations to the Dunaway Center once everyone has relocated to the new building,” Buttrick said.
The Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce is expecting in January to vacate its current headquarters at 102 Main Street and relocate to a suite at 20 Shore Road in the heart of the downtown. The move is expected to make room for another move. As approved by the Select Board, the Police Department will temporarily set up shop at the Chamber site while the town campus reconfiguration is taking place. Buttrick said the Police Department likely would remain there until the fall of 2025.
Buttrick said some work will need to be done to make the site suitable for police operations.
“We’ll need to make some upgrades, including door enhancements and data cabling, but these are expected to take little time,” Buttrick said. “We anticipate completing the move by the end of February.”
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Happy Trails in Wells
WELLS — Town Engineer Mike Livingston mentioned the Eastern Trail as one particular development on which residents can hope to see some progress in 2024.
In an email, Livingston said the final designs and potential funding for the construction of new sections of the Eastern Trail are expected to take shape in the coming year. No timetable for actual construction is slated at the moment, however, he added.
The Wells stretch of the Eastern Trail is part of an overall project to engineer an 11-mile, off-road expansion from Kennebunk to North Berwick.
Last year, the Eastern Trail Alliance learned it would receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds for the effort. In announcing the funds, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the trail’s expansion will provide increased opportunities for transportation and recreation throughout York County.
The Eastern Trail spans 65 miles from Bug Light in South Portland to the Memorial Bridge on Route 1 in Kittery. The first 22 miles of the trail, from Bug Light to Kennebunk Elementary School on Alewive Road in Kennebunk, are through wooded areas. The remainder of the trail, from the school to the bridge in Kittery, is along roads.
The expansion is expected to take the trail off-road, along wooded passages in view of occasional rural houses and farms, from Kennebunk Elementary School, through Wells, to the border of Pratt & Whitney, the aircraft manufacturing company at 113 Wells Street in North Berwick.
Also in 2024, Livingston said Wells residents can expect the new, south-side platform to be built at the Amtrak-Downeaster train station on Sanford Road. As well, Livingston said, the town is slated to purchase additional land for conservation purposes and to receive the results and final report for the Route 1 Corridor Study.
Route 1 sewer extension could spur development in York
YORK — Route 1 in York could see a new opportunity for development if voters approve an $11.5 million sewer extension. The extension would extend the sewer north from the area of Stone Wall Kitchen to Old Post Road, where it would connect with a sewer main.
The project would take funding from several sources. Taxpayers would be asked to foot $5 million, while ratepayers would cover $2.5 million of the project. Town officials say they would pursue grants to cover the rest and use $250,000 from American Rescue Plan Act funds controlled by the Selectboard.
If approved, it would allow existing businesses like Eldredge Lumber and Anthony’s Food Shop to further develop their properties. Town Planning Director Dylan Smith said it would also potentially bring more affordable housing to Route 1, which is a goal in the town’s recently approved Comprehensive Plan. The plan was recently named Plan of the Year by the Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association.
“There’s no real density threshold in some areas of Route 1,” Smith said. “You could, maybe, see more residential units, more affordable units, workforce housing units.”