Friends of Acadia Purchases Land in Seal Harbor for Development of Acadia Seasonal Workforce Housing

The purchase is part of a broader strategy to help Acadia address the housing crisis on Mount Desert Island

BAR HARBOR, MAINE–On Sept. 8, 2023, Friends of Acadia became the official owner of a 4-acre parcel of land on the northern end of Jordan Pond Road where the organization intends to construct housing for seasonal employees of Acadia National Park.

Friends of Acadia acquired the property from Seal Harbor Properties LLC (governed by members of the Rockefeller family), which is supportive of using the land for seasonal park housing and offered the property at a discounted price to Friends of Acadia to help meet that goal.

“Acadia National Park is such an important part of Mount Desert Island (MDI) for residents, businesses, and visitors,” said Neva Goodwin, Managing Partner of Seal Harbor Properties. “The park suffers, like many other organizations, from a crisis in affordable housing. Seal Harbor Properties is very happy to assist in a transaction that will address a small part of the need.”

Dane Farm Seasonal Workforce Housing for Acadia Conceptual Site Plan

Friends of Acadia has partnered with the National Park Service (NPS) to address the housing crisis on MDI and its surrounding communities. The housing shortage has a direct impact on Acadia’s ability to hire a seasonal workforce to provide a quality visitor experience, care for cultural and natural resources, make progress on diversity and inclusion initiatives, and advance other strategic priorities.

“We’re excited to partner with the NPS to tackle this immense challenge,” said Friends of Acadia President and CEO Eric Stiles. “And we’re thrilled that our investment will be matched 1-1 with federal Centennial Challenge funds (subject to passage of the federal budget), demonstrating the true power of public-private partnership and showcasing Acadia’s leadership in addressing difficult issues,” he added. “We are especially grateful to Seal Harbor Properties and the Rockefeller family for making this particular project happen, and for their continued dedication and support of the park and its surrounding communities.”

The Seal Harbor property—located at Map 4, Lot 003 on the Town of Mount Desert tax maps and referred to as the Dane Farm property—is located within Acadia National Park’s administrative boundary. It is also served by town sewer and water, has already largely been cleared and leveled (it’s currently a gravel pit, used for storage of materials and equipment), is reasonably removed from immediate neighbors, and provides easy access to the park, making it a good fit for Acadia seasonal employee housing.

In July, Friends of Acadia and Acadia National Park leadership met with nearby residents of the property to lay out a concept for an initial phase of development and listen to input and answer questions from area residents. Friends of Acadia plans to construct a primary residence with five bedrooms and an accessory dwelling with three bedrooms, as allowed under current town zoning. Friends of Acadia would then donate the land and buildings to Acadia National Park for long-term ownership and management.

“This is a huge step forward in our efforts to support the seasonal staff that keeps Acadia National Park running,” said Acadia National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “The park is incredibly grateful for Friends of Acadia’s partnership and unmatched dedication to providing housing for our seasonal employees. We can’t wait for this project to come to life!”

Friends of Acadia purchased the Kingsleigh Inn in Southwest Harbor this spring to provide an additional 10 bedrooms for seasonal park employees. And, it has also helped fund renovation of existing park housing units to add additional bedrooms.

More about Friends of Acadia’s workforce housing efforts:

Additional Coverage:

Friends of Acadia buys 4 acres for development of park workforce housing – via MaineBiz

Former Rockefeller land will be seasonal housing for Acadia workers – via Bangor Daily News

Acadia housing projects take big steps – via Mount Desert Islander

Acadia jobs go unfilled due to labor and housing challenges – via Maine Public

Friends Of Acadia Purchases Land For National Park Employee Housing – via National Parks Traveler

Friends of Acadia purchases land for development of seasonal workforce housing – via Ellsworth American