Point Lookout owners hoping lease will keep doors open

By Stephanie Grinnell | Sep 20, 2019
Courtesy of: Point Lookout The lobby of Hedges Hall, which is being offered for lease through an RFP process.

Northport — The owners of Point Lookout in Northport have reversed course and are keeping the venue open — if a lessee can be found.

It was announced in June that Point Lookout would close at the end of year. However, David and Tami Hirshfeld — principles of Deep Creek Grazing Association Inc., the owners of Point Lookout — said Sept. 20 that after months of hand-wringing, worry and considering options, they are offering a portion of the property for lease.

“We were a little premature in (announcing the) closing,” David Hirshfeld said.

The closure decision was prompted by a months-long study by Pinnacle Advisory Group, which performed an in-depth look at the business and financials, he said. The study results were “scary” in regard to the financial resources the couple would need to keep the location afloat, David Hirshfeld said. While the couple “has been blessed with resources,” he said, keeping the venue open long-term was out of the question at that time.

“We thought, what have we done?’ Tami Hirshfeld added.

The couple said they still struggled with the idea of closing the venue. They initially hoped to live there. David Hirshfeld noted he is accustomed to large, dusty agricultural operations and has long been fascinated by the smaller picturesque farms that dot the state. At the same time, the couple's initial vision was to keep the resort open. David Hirshfeld said he wished many times another person or company could be held responsible for the closure.

"I don't like wearing a black hat," he said.

After the closure announcement, feedback from staff and users of Point Lookout called attention to something the couple previously overlooked.

“It wasn’t until then we realized it’s such an integral part of the community,” David Hirshfeld said.

Through the summer, the couple have been trying different things in an attempt to keep the doors open longer.

“But there were roadblocks with everything we tried,” Tami Hirshfeld said.

Then, the lease option came to them about a month ago.

“That way, it will allow the community, investors, whoever, to continue operation of Point Lookout,” David Hirshfeld said, later adding, "Let them do it, and I'll be in my blueberry fields. And shooing the deer away from my apples."

The couple met with staff Friday morning to announce the change of direction and said they are grateful for the supportive staff, who quickly embraced the idea. Tami Hirshfeld said many employees spoke to her after the announcement, offering hugs and thanks.

“It’s so easy to put yourself in their shoes,” she said, referencing the unknowns of new owners.

The Hirshfelds live in Camden, in a home they purchased 13 years ago as a vacation spot from Montana, where they used to live. Their son played football through middle and high school with Camden schools and recently moved to Augusta with his wife. Their daughter Hannah, a nurse working at Pen Bay who lives in Rockport with her husband, will take over management of the gym at Point Lookout.

“The gym will stay open, regardless; it’s not part of the lease,” David Hirshfeld said.

Offered for lease are Hedges Hall, 40 or so cabins, a bowling alley, Copper Pines Cafe and the education center. The request for proposals will allow different people to operate different parts of the venue, the Hirshfelds said, meaning that if someone only wants to run the cafe, they should submit a proposal only for the cafe and not the entire leased property.

The RFP will be advertised out of state as well, according to The Knight Canney Group CEO Crystal Canney. Questions and clarifications will be accepted until Oct. 9 at noon via email to susan@visitpointlookout.com. Written proposals must be submitted as digital PDFs no later than 5 p.m. EST, Friday, Nov. 1.

David and Tami Hirshfeld. (Photo by: Stephanie Grinnell)
One of the cabins on Point Lookout property that is included in a lease opportunity. (Courtesy of: Point Lookout)
The Point Lookout bowling alley included in a lease RFP. (Courtesy of: Point Lookout)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Ralph Stanley | Sep 22, 2019 15:02

Doesn't add up. One doesn't invest is something without having done some homework. Initially, after purchase, new owners were informed by Pinnacle that infrastructure costs were substantial. They didn't know this going in? Informed staff that it was all in at the end of the year. Now a scramble to find lease partners? Owner says he would rather be chasing deer out of his apple orchards? Doesn't want to be the black hat? Didn't know how the community was in on having the place? This is an insider corporatist whose bottom line is himself. Fine. As such he would do it this way. What was he to do after purchase? Don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out? Well, of course.

Equipment at the fitness center is way out of date. Up until recently, Point Lookout kept calling the fitness center the state of the art. Going on 25 years. Hardly that. Something would break down and they would move it out. Caulley left a tough act to follow. Plowed so much capital into this place that no one could ever keep up when all was said and done. Some was done well but most of it is lacking. Wish them luck.



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