The end of 2016 was somber for many Boothbay Harbor locals as the sale of Romar Bowling Alley was finalized. Sisters Nancy, Sue and Marianne Rowe sold the five-generation waterfront property for $1.325 million to Dr. Rahul Anand, owner of 8 Wharf St. LLC and its namesake.
In September 2016, Anand, represented by Knickerbocker Group, held a pre-application discussion with the planning board. Two months later as the deadline approached for finalizing, the board returned to hash out interpretations of the building’s uses and potential uses. The parties agreed an application for four uses and several accessory uses would pass. The main uses agreed upon were a marina, a commercial space, and two residential units with accessory uses of a general store and cafe to the marina and parking for all four uses.
The following January came with news that the old Romar Bowling Alley would be demolished and as much of its contents would be salvaged as possible. February brought preliminary sketches which were received with mixed results from the planning board. Several members were concerned about construction’s potential disruption to foot and vehicle traffic while board member Margaret Perritt felt the concept did not match Boothbay Harbor’s typical look. Code Enforcement Officer Geoff Smith noted the height limit in the district is 30 feet while the concepts showed a 35-foot height for buildings.
In March, selectmen approved traffic plans and demolition to the structure, with parking and a pedestrian to be preserved. Due to unforeseen circumstances around securing a contractor, 19 By Way was given an extension for demolition in early May and by the end of the month, the building was taken down and the premises were fenced off.
The planning board approved an amendment in August to allow real estate signage for the future upper floor residences and informational signage on the concepts designers were working with. By September, Knickerbocker Group announced Anand was postponing construction until 2018.
“The town took too long to approve the project,” Anand said shortly after the decision to postpone. “The building timeframe is very narrow per the (planning) board as well … The fire marshal is behind schedule, per the state … The construction documents and pricing takes months after the town approval. There was no way the project could have started last year based on these constraints … So add these things up, and here we are.”
Anand added that he would have loved to start construction by at least building the foundation in the spring of 2017, but the town would only allow a start date of October as to not impact the peak season for other businesses.
“Your (planning) board needs a change or needs to accommodate construction better,” said Anand.
In May 2018, Anand said the project was still awaiting fire marshal approval for construction plans which were required before approaching the planning board to begin construction in the fall.
“The zoning changes, both the height and usage, wouldn't delay construction,” Anand said replying to the question of whether or not east side zoning issues factored into any decision-making. “We may make a few modifications.”
After months of no developments, 19 By Way was listed for sale by the Masiello Group for $2.2 million. The Boothbay Register reached out to Anand in early February for an update, and has received no response. Smith said he only knew the property has been listed for sale and that current permits for construction are still good.
Neighboring business Boat House Bistro has been reaping the benefits of a great view of the harbor, said owner and local chef of fame Ralph Smith.
“I really don’t know what is happening with that,” said Smith. “Naturally for me, not having a building there gives my building a great view of the water.”
Smith said he cannot complain about his business’s view of the harbor. On the other hand, the fencing and concrete barriers lining the property have been an eyesore and he looks forward to something happening with the property.