Navy hotel faces uncertain future

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BRUNSWICK — The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority has postponed its search for an operator of the 248-room Navy Gateway Inn & Suites, despite seeking proposals and offering a tour of the facility to interested parties.

During an April 19 tour of the hotel, which closed April 30, Executive Director of MRRA Steve Levesque said he was hoping to have an operator selected by mid-May and open the hotel by June.

But on Tuesday, he said he wasn’t sure if the hotel would open for the June 4 International Fly-In, or the Great State of Maine Airshow at the end of August.

“We’re still evaluating what we’re doing regarding the hotel,” he said. “We may decide to wait until next year (to open it).”

That decision came as a surprise to Don Hebert, who submitted a proposal to operate the hotel.

Hebert said after sending in his proposal, he didn’t hear anything back from David Markovchick, MRRA’s economic development manager.

“David finally called me back and said he appreciated the work I had done but they decided not to open the facility,” he said.

Hebert said his own interest in the hotel and conference center had waned since the announcement of two large hotel and convention centers in Portland last month. The $100 million Thompson’s Point development would house the Red Claws and include a concert hall, office buildings and a 125-room hotel. In the same week, the owner of Shipyard Brewery announced he was seeking developers for a convention center, hotel and culinary school at his Newbury Street property.

But Levesque said those announcements did not influence the decision to put the hotel operator search on hold, nor had concerns raised by some local hotel owners that the Brunswick lodging market was over-saturated.

He was, however, concerned that the hotel might deteriorate while it is closed – a problem facing all the buildings on the base that have not found new tenants.

“Any of the buildings we have on base, the longer they sit the more expensive it is to get (them) up and running again,” he said. “Welcome to my world.”

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.