Construction of the Inn at Diamond Cove Resumes Despite Fire Last Fall


By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,688)

The Inn at Diamond Cove is back on track to put Portland on the map for one of the finest resorts on the New England coast.  The good news came at a press conference this morning where David Bateman, President of Bateman Partners, the developer for the Inn at Diamond Cove, announced that work had begun already to stabilize some of the walls and construction workers will be back on the job within several months on the $12.3 million development.  Bateman promised to return it to its former self and make it an economic benefit to the City of Portland.

Last November 23, a fire swept through the historic landmark on Great Diamond Island, one of the Calendar Islands, not far from the Portland waterfront.  The Inn was within two weeks of completion when it happened.  Bateman, a Maine native, said that if it were not for the quick work of the Portland Fire Department as well as other volunteer departments, the challenge to rebuild would have been much more daunting.  Due to the promptness of the fire fighters, 75% the walls of the building, the “Double Barracks” survived the blaze to enable the Inn to qualify again for Federal tax credits.  “This is a city that has risen from the ashes four times.  We will rebuild also,” said Bateman in the State of Maine Room press conference at City Hall.

The Inn at Diamond Cove, located on the northeast corner of Great Diamond Island, is of particular significance because it lies within the original Fort McKinley complex.  The complex consisted of 44 buildings – including a bakery, a hospital  and a school-house and was built to accommodate 700 men. The so-called “Double Barracks” in which the Inn is being built, was by far the largest of the original Fort.  The Fort was built mostly between 1903 – 1910 to defend Portland’s harbors.  It was part of an upgrading of American defenses by President Roosevelt and was the largest of five forts in Portland Harbor.  It was abandoned following World War 11 and sold to private parties.

Bateman Partners purchased the property from the City of Portland in 2007.  It went through lawsuits brought by others who opposed the project according to Ron Ward, attorney for the Inn.   Portland acquired the property because of matured tax liens filed against the property beginning in 2003.

The Inn at Diamond Cove was to have been completed this spring.  That date has now been changed to May of 2015.

:”The Historic Preservation staff is very pleased that the double barrack will be rebuilt, as its reconstruction ensures that the core of the original fort complex remains whole, with all its contributing structures.  The proposed hotel use also ensures that more visitors will have access to this unique historic complex.  We are also very pleased to learn that because 75% of its exterior walls survived the fire, the developer will be able to take advantage of historic tax credits to complete the project,” said Deb Andrews, Manager of Historic Preservation  for City.

Bateman also owns the Portland Harbor Hotel.