Two established Winthrop business owners are hoping to expand their offerings in the next year and are seeking — with the town’s help — financial assistance through a federal economic development program.

Kimberly Stoneton, the owner of Bloom Salon on Main Street, hopes to open a new coffee shop next door to her salon, in an empty storefront on Main Street.

Ryan Chamberland, who owns and teaches classes at United Fitness & Martial Arts Studio on Route 133, plans to launch at least two new offerings: a martial arts class for central Mainers with physical and mental disabilities and a fitness class for area children who are home-schooled.

To make headway on those projects, both Stoneton and Chamberland have been working with the town to secure funding through the federal Community Development Block Grant program, which helps towns and cities meet a range of economic development needs.

A public hearing about both projects will be held April 3 during a Winthrop Town Council meeting, according to Terry Ann Holden, a state official who oversees development programs.

A local official was not available to comment on the block grant process late last week.

In interviews, both Stoneton and Chamberland said their projects could help revitalize Winthrop in unique ways.

As the owner of a downtown salon, Stoneton said her customers have complained about the lack of places to get coffee downtown. She owns the building that houses her salon, as well as the storefront at 130 Main St. that most recently housed Cafe at 130 and has been the site of several other eateries and cafes, including Ned’s Place and the Flaky Tart.

Cafe at 130 closed in January, Stoneton said, and both Cafe at 130 and the Flaky Tart were not open as frequently as her salon customers would have liked. Another shop, Coffee and Cones, opened last summer across the street from Bloom Salon, but it also has closed.

“Consistency is what I see as lacking,” Stoneton said. “It’s been frustrating as a business owner.”

Stoneton has been involved in other efforts to develop downtown Winthrop, including serving as the vice president of the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, but she said that after a certain point, she decided to roll up her sleeves.

“I’m trying to get some life down here,” she said. “Now I’m going to have to do it on my own.”

Stoneton said she plans to go forward with the new coffee shop even if she doesn’t receive the $30,000 community development grant, but that those funds would allow her to open sooner.

She has partnered with Tyler Arsenault, a Winthrop resident who works on the Auburn Fire Department and has a cooking background, to launch the operation. One condition for receiving the block grant is that Stoneton must hire a full-time employee, and Stoneton said she plans to hire a pastry chef. She also plans to hire her daughter, Haley Stoneton, to work there part time.

The new shop probably won’t open for at least a year, Stoneton said, but she already knows what it will be called: 8’s Coffee Bar.

That name’s a testament to Stoneton’s other daughter, Kelsey, a standout field hockey player at Winthrop High School who wore the number 8 on her jersey and died in 2014 after suffering a pulmonary embolism. Her death hit the community hard, and many Winthrop field hockey players still honor Kelsey by wearing gear with the number 8 on it.

Over on Route 133, Chamberland is applying for $50,000 in block grant funding to help cover the costs of repairs and renovations to United Fitness & Martial Arts Studio, so that he can offer more quickly several new programs that have been in the works.

Last summer, Chamberland built a 1,800-square-foot addition where he plans to offer martial arts classes, and one of the classes he hopes to offer is for area residents with physical and mental disabilities.

Chamberland said he knows of a martial arts instructor in Westbrook who offers classes for people with disabilities and has about 65 students, and he thinks there might be demand for similar services in the Winthrop area.

He also plans to start a fitness class for area children who are home-schooled and might not have a reliable physical education option; and eventually, he would like to start a tai chi class for senior citizens.

Besides meeting different needs for those students, Chamberland said the expanded offerings would bring more people to Winthrop, including parents of students who would have time to kill during classes and might decide to shop or dine downtown. About 70 percent of Chamberland’s students live outside Winthrop, some as far away as Jay, Livermore Falls and Auburn, he said.

And the grant Chamberland is applying for also would help him hire full-time instructors.

Holden, the state development official, said 14 Maine towns and cities have been invited to apply this year for about $700,000 in available Community Development Block Grants. Applications for the grants are due in late April, she said, and decisions could be made by early June.

Barbara Walsh, executive director of the Winthrop Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, said both projects fit in with the town’s larger economic development goals. And as both Chamberland and Stoneton go forward with the federal grant process, Walsh said, both benefit from their reputations.

“They’re very well respected business owners in the community,” Walsh said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

 

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