New life for once-bustling downtown Kennebunk market
KENNEBUNK — The former Garden Street Market downtown will be redeveloped as a bowling alley, restaurant and tap house.
The 15,000-square-foot building, at 11 Garden St., was sold to Jake Peterson, Dan Hardy and John Nelson by Hadcar Corp. for $1 million, in a deal that closed May 12. John Anderson, representing the seller, and Suzanne McKechnie, representing the buyers — both of Investcomm Commercial Group — brokered the deal.
The Garden Street Market was operated by the Hannaford Brothers Co., which leased the space from Hadcar. When the market closed, in 2010, the initial idea was to find a sub-letter for Hannaford, said Anderson.
“There were few people who had an interest in subleasing 15,000 square feet. But there were a lot of people interested in buying,” Anderson said. “Once we went to sale mode, it turned over quickly.”
The new spot will be named the Garden Street Bowl with the Crotux Kitchen and Taphouse. “Crotux” is a word that Peterson developed with friends and families over the years to indicate the idea of being in the moment with friends, family and community.
“That’s truly what we hope to develop in this space, a place to come together and appreciate what we have, and to appreciate how lucky we are to live in this community that includes good food, good drinks, good times, good games. It’s a way of life,” Peterson said.
Rebirth for downtown Kennebunk
Anderson, a former chairman of the Kennebunk Downtown Revitalization Committee, said the project is a boon for downtown revitalization. The committee, formed in 2008, improved landscaping, roads and signage, which in turn attracted new investors, thus decreasing commercial vacancy rates from between 20% and 40% to around 3% in recent years.
“So [the new investment is] further enhancing this nice, pedestrian-friendly and inviting downtown,” Anderson said.
The market closed after Hannaford bought the larger Stop & Shop building on Route 1, said Kennebunk Economic Development Director Mathew Eddy. Revitalization initiatives in the downtown began around the same time.
“The Garden Street Market was the one piece that was left,” Eddy said. “Jake, John and Dan came along at the right time.”
‘We need to do something about this’
Peterson, who grew up in Kennebunk, recalled going to the Garden Street Market almost daily with his mother.
“The market was a hub,” he said. “You’d run into your neighbor, catch up on family matters. It was a special place.”
Peterson and the other two new owners have worked together at the Village Tavern in West Kennebunk since it opened four years ago. They previously worked together at the Cape Arundel Inn in Kennebunkport and Hardy and Peterson worked together at Bandaloop in Kennebunkport.
They discussed opening their own place and “started talking about this vacant building that’s in the center of town,” Peterson said. “For years, it’s been a drag on the downtown economy and downtown activities. We said, ‘We need to do something about this.'”
The three agreed a bowling alley with a restaurant and pub would be a great way to reinvent the space as a fun and family-friendly social setting.
“We want to create a place where you can bring family and friends,” Peterson said. “It’s all about good times and enjoying this lovely community. We wanted to bring our skills as restaurateurs to this project.”
Courtesy / Investcomm Commercial Group
The former Garden Street Market, a long-time centerpiece of Kennebunk’s downtown, will be redeveloped as a bowling alley, restaurant and tap house.
Rehab of the building began three days after the closing, with Westbrook-based contractor Benchmark Construction tearing out everything inside and leaving the shell. Ten “ten-pin” bowling lanes will be built. The dining room will seat 40. The tap house will seat 30 to 35 and feature 22 taps for craft beer.
Funding for the multi-million-dollar purchase and reconstruction was obtained through Kennebunk Savings Bank, an angel investor and financial commitments from the three partners.
“We have an angel investor who’s been more than generous in his ability to help us,” Peterson said. “We’ve gone through our local bank, which has been great in assisting us to get this whole project together.”
The opening date hasn’t been set yet, but Peterson said the project will take at least six months to complete. In the meantime, the partners are working with the town to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for gap funding.
“We hope that will help us complete the job the way we want it to be done,” he said. “We’ll be able to open, but to really a make it everything we want, it would be great to get CDBG assistance.”