SOUTH PORTLAND — The owner of the former Griffin Club property in Knightville has decided to redevelop the lot with a tavern and small inn, instead of condominiums.

Ginger Cote, who bought the property at 60 Ocean St. in June 2017 for $600,000, presented plans in January for a four-story building with a music venue and restaurant called Big Babe’s Tavern on the first floor and five residential condos above. The condos were priced from $525,000 to $875,000.

Those plans have been replaced by a proposal for a two-story building with five lodging rooms to be operated as an inn, above a restaurant that also will showcase live music, according to documents submitted to the Planning Department on Aug. 22.

The revised project will be built on the same footprint as the original proposal. Community Planner Stephen Puleo said the plan will go to the Planning Board in late September or October for an amended site plan review.

Cote on Wednesday said she is excited about the revised project, and believes the inn is a more natural fit for the neighborhood. She hopes to rent kayaks and bicycles to inn guests, and attract more visitors and foot traffic to Knightville.

“It’s better than ridiculous, expensive condos,” she said. “There are enough of those already.”


Under Cote’s new proposal, the 47-seat tavern would have a separate lounge, serve lunch and dinner, and be open until midnight. In keeping with the original proposal, Cote also will have her own residence in the building.

Parking requirements for the project dictate a total of 15 spaces to accommodate the business. Eight parking spaces will be available on site, with three spaces available along C Street, and four off-site spaces, according to the plans.

An Aroostook County native, Cote has lived in South Portland for 15 years. She is a professional musician who has toured for 40 years with artists including Bonnie Raitt, Cidny Bullens and Emmylou Harris, and has said there is a need for a music scene in the city and additional support for the arts.

The original project was estimated to cost $2.4 million, according to a November 2017 application submitted to the city, and was approved by the Planning Board in April.

Soon after, Cote demolished the 5,800-square-foot, circa-1900 Griffin Club building. Construction was previously expected to begin in mid-May.

Cote previously said she will hang a plaque in the new tavern as a tribute to Griffin Club founder Eddie Griffin and acknowledgment of the building’s history as a boxing club and Irish pub, which in its heyday attracted national sports celebrities along with a local clientele.

Read the story at The Forecaster.

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