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- The Forecaster
SOUTH PORTLAND — A vintage Meetinghouse Hill home and former convent could be reborn as an inn.
Josh Benthien, chief executive of Northland Enterprises, Wednesday said he and the Migis Hotel Group hope to convert the 8,600-square-foot, Civil War-era home built by Capt. David Boyd at 265 Cottage Road into a 13-room inn.
“The idea is a professionally managed, higher-end inn with a minimal impact on neighbors,” Benthien said, adding the developers hope to open the business no later than spring 2021.
He said they see the approximately 1-acre property as an ideal location for a lodging business in a walkable neighborhood not far from Willard Beach, Mill Creek and Knightville.
The inn would not have a restaurant or bar, he said.
The deal may depend on the city deciding if it will allow the project in a designated historic building or property.
An initial workshop on proposals from the city Arts & Historic Preservation Committee was held last month. Any new rules would require Planning Board review before city councilors vote on it. Benthien said he hopes an inn would be among conditional uses allowed in a new historic zone.
Peter Twachtman, Migis chief operating officer and managing partner, said “our combined approach is, we see a wonderful building with a unique structure that needs to be something other than the single-family home it currently is.”
The developers have the property under contract for an undisclosed price, but have not closed on the purchase from 364 Broadway LLC, which bought the property last June. The building was formerly the Convent of the Diocesan Sisters of Mercy.
Migis leases and operates seven inns in Maine, including the Higgins Beach Inn and Black Point Inn, both in Scarborough. Twachtman said his company and Northland are a good match to make the project work for them and the neighborhood.
“They get it, they are here for the long haul. It mirrors what our company does well,” Twachtman said.
A site plan has not been filed with the city, but Benthien and Twachtman said they are keeping neighbors well informed about their plans.
“I live around the corner, I care about the neighborhood as much as anyone,” Twachtman said.
Benthien said they are also in the initial stages of certifying the historic nature of the home, which is not on the National Register of Historic Places. They are working with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission on a historic designation that would allow Benthien to use state and federal tax credits to fund renovations.
“It would allow us to do a historic rehab and put money into it that is needed to save it,” Benthien said.
The credits come with restrictions on how a building can be redeveloped, and Benthien said he sees installation of sprinklers and fire escapes as the biggest challenges in the plan.
Other elements are easier because the house is set back from Cottage Road.
“Without much work at all, you can put 12 cars in there,” Twachtman said. “It’s plenty of parking that still allows good buffer for neighbors and the inn.”
Benthien and Northland have renovated the historic Sanford Mill and Portland’s Baxter Library for residential use. Northland also built two office buildings at 1945 Congress St. in Portland, on former Elk’s Lodge property near the Portland Jetport.
Developer Josh Benthian and the Migis Hotel Group plan to convert the former convent at 265 Cottage Road in South Portland into a 13-room inn.
Josh Benthian of Northland Enterprises said converting 265 Cottage Road in South Portland into an inn will have minimal impact on neighbors and fit well in the Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood.