BRUNSWICK – Auburn developer George Schott is delaying plans for a hospitality and retail center at the former Atrium Inn & Convention Center on Gurnet Road.

Schott, who purchased the Atrium property in July, recently completed a $13 million Marriott Residence Inn project in Auburn with Ocean Properties Ltd. He had hoped to build a similar facility in Brunswick with town involvement.

But on Monday he said the project is being delayed because a softening national hotel market had prompted his Residence Inn partners to lose interest. Schott declined to elaborate on his plan for the Gurnet Road property, except to say it would have resembled Auburn’s new Residence Inn with a retail component.

“Right now it’s on hold, so it’s a moot point,” he said. “We had hoped to find a partner for the hotel, but given the economy and the hotel market, it’s not happening.”

Delaying the plan may come as a surprise to the town. Economic Development Director Mat Eddy said Monday that he was anticipating an application for the project early in 2009.

Eddy said he expected town involvement because the project would have allowed connection of Gurnet Road and Tibbets Drive, the street leading to an adjacent Wal-Mart store.

Eddy said the new road would alleviate some Cook’s Corner congestion and traffic from Bath Road.

It’s unclear how a Residence Inn-type development would fare in Brunswick, since Brunswick Naval Air Station, slated to close in 2011, is home to a recently constructed 250-room hotel – the second largest in the state. BNAS redevelopers hope to use the hotel to build a convention center.

Eddy said Schott’s development would complement the convention center by offering “long-stay” opportunities to visitors.

Asked if the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the organization implementing the BNAS reuse plan, had been consulted on the Schott development, Eddy said he was unsure.

Schott, the development mogul behind a retail boom in Auburn, bought the Atrium property earlier this year. His company, Just Because LLC, purchased a total of five lots between Gurnet and Thomas Point roads a day before they were set for a July 17 public auction. Four of those properties are vacant. The fifth is the nine-acre, multi-building complex that was once home to Winner’s Sports Bar & Grill and the former Atrium. Schott has since razed most of the buildings.

He said he has received some additional interest in Atrium property, but nothing significant.

“We’re still looking,” Schott said. “If you know somebody who’s interested, tell them to call me.”


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