A bed-and-breakfast under construction in a former church will receive a $50,000 loan from the city of Gardiner through the city’s revolving loan program to help pay for the final renovations needed to open later this summer.

City councilors unanimously approved giving the 20-year, $49,800 loan to The Stone Turret at their meeting Wednesday night. The loan will allow the owner of the bed-and-breakfast to pay for a sprinkler system, fire alarms and other renovations required to open the business, according to Nate Rudy, director of economic and community development for the city.

Rudy said he recommended councilors approve the loan because attracting a business offering lodging has long been a goal for the city. The closest motels and hotels are in Augusta and the closest bed-and-breakfast is in Hallowell, both at least 10 minutes north of Gardiner.

“We hope that by having this bed-and-breakfast, Gardiner will have more overnight visitors who can frequent our downtown restaurants or sail up the Kennebec River and use the marina for an overnight stay,” he said. The B&B will also allow business travelers visiting Gardiner to not have to go elsewhere for lodging, Rudy said.

The city has been offering a $2,500 cash bonus to the first buyer agent or real estate broker who brings a successful bed-and-breakfast to a historical building ā€” $1,000 once it opens and $1,500 after a year if it stays.

Shawn Dolley, the owner of The Stone Turret, plans to hold an open house at the bed-and-breakfast Aug. 16. He said he hopes he’ll be able to start renting three of the five rooms out then.

The city’s revolving loan fund was established with a United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan in 2001. The city has paid roughly $21,225 a year to the USDA since 2005 and will do so through 2029 until the loan is paid off, according to Finance Director Denise Brown.

Not including the upcoming loan to the bed-and-breakfast, the city has eight active loans with about $223,000 remaining to be paid off, Rudy said. There is roughly $300,000 left in the fund, he said.

The city has previously authorized loans to A1 Diner, Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center and ArtDogs, but most recently it loaned out $40,000 to the owners of Alex Parker’s Steakhouse in the downtown to help cover startup and renovation costs. The loan issued in late 2012 allowed the steakhouse owners to renovate a public stairway connected to the restaurant’s entrance.

Dolley bought the former church at 17 Lincoln Ave. last year for $42,500. It was built in 1905 as Maine’s first Christian Science church and later housed the Gardiner Community Church and a center for mentally disabled adults, before being converted to apartments in the 1980s. He’s been renting two two-bedroom apartments in the back of the building since last June.

Dolley, who said the city has been very supportive of his venture, already has some bookings for September around the time when the BikeMaine ride is scheduled to make an overnight stop in the city.

He said people in the neighborhood have also been stopping by, asking when he’ll be open.

“No we’re not quite there yet,” Dolley said. “But hang in there. We’ll get there.”

Paul Koenig ā€” 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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