Originally published in Castine Patriot, September 1, 2022
Former Penobscot Nursing Home under new ownership
Deer Isle Eatons are open to commercial ideas
by Maggie White
The building that housed the former Penobscot Nursing Home and its sister institution, Northern Bay Residential Living Center, from 1997 until it shuttered in 2017 was purchased on August 12 by Skip and Karen Eaton.
The Eatons, who own and operate the Deer Isle-based businesses Eaton Paving & Excavation and Skip Eaton Transportation and Dockside Fuel, are currently open to ideas as to what to do with the front part of the property. They plan to turn the back part into housing, and one thing is certain: there won’t be a delay in finding a construction crew, as the work will be done by many of the seasonal workers the Eatons have traditionally had trouble keeping employed over the leaner winter months.
“We bought it as an investment. We have wintertime employees and it’s hard to keep good employees now. We can’t lay people off for the winter, say ‘see you in April.’ We have the manpower and this will give them interior work to do,” Eaton said.
Skip Eaton reported that the soil has been tested and the site qualified for several single family dwellings should they choose to go that route. “We’re going to try to get as much housing as we can get approved,” said Eaton.
Community feedback welcome
As for the front of the property that is visible from the road, the Eatons are relying on the community—as well as the broker and local business owner who sold them the property—to bring ideas their way. In a recent phone call, Skip Eaton mused, “Would it warrant a bakery or a barber shop or whatever? I like small business, and I think something could sustain there.” He said that they’re open to mixed use—some retail, some office and/or some function or event space.
“We want to review every possibility that people have for an idea. Right now, we’re leaving that open, and we’d like to get some feedback. No heavy industry—that’s the only thing that’s forbidden. At this point, rent and space can be adjusted,” said Eaton, who also indicated that they are a ways out from construction on the front portion of the property. “The building is so big and it’s going to be a year or so getting the back half set up. The image of the front won’t change much during that time,” he said.
Eaton suggested that anyone with a business or idea for the space is welcome to contact Jamie MacNair, agent at Compass Point Real Estate and owner of Penobscot’s Northern Bay Market.
For her part, MacNair is enthused. “The store has been the hub of conversation. It’s been a continuous dialogue and it’s been a whole lot of fun. I love Penobscot. I’m really excited about this. It’s a big deal for our little town.”
Anyone with ideas for the commercial space or with an interest in renting part or all of it is welcome to contact MacNair at email@example.com, or they can catch her at the market, located at 177 Southern Bay Road.