HOULTON, Maine – It has taken a bit longer than anticipated, but remodeling work is now underway at the former StarDust Motel on U.S. Route 1.
Purchased by the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in late 2021, remodeling work was delayed when bids for the project came in higher than anticipated. Remodeling work officially began Wednesday, April, 29 on the property.
Officials originally hoped to reopen in May, but that timeline has now been pushed back to December. Upon completion, the 672 North St. motel will be rebranded as the Wolastoq Inn and Suites, featuring a prominent Native American theme throughout the property.
Constructed in 1965, the 11-room motel needs a fire sprinkler system, upgrades to make rooms compliant with federal accessibility laws, installation of a filtered HVAC system, septic system improvements, flooring, windows and basement repair, according to Rosa McNally, grant writer/project manager for the Houlton Band of Maliseets.
Phase I was completed by Building’s Etc. of Houlton, along with B.R. Smith Associates of Presque Isle for survey and engineering work. Funding for the purchase and renovation was made possible by an American Rescue Plan/Indian Community Development Block Grant award.
Phase II will involve a complete interior makeover of the rooms, which will lean heavily into the tribe’s rich Native American culture and heritage. Swallow’s Electric and Buildings Etc., both of Houlton, and A.M. Construction and Roofing of Caribou were awarded the bids for construction work on the property, while B.R. Smith and Associates of Presque Isle did the engineering/design work.
Spurred by the need for temporary housing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians acquired the property with plans to use a portion of the property as emergency shelter rooms, while the majority of the motel will be open to the public.
Some of the rooms will be converted into larger suites, to better accommodate larger families. A new lobby and manager’s office will also be created in what was once the residential portion of the property. Laundry facilities will also be added, McNally said.