There’s a saying: to get something done, ask the busiest person. Jim Pouravelis was a busy man, being a teacher at St. Joseph’s College and working at The Ocean House in Old Orchard Beach, the oceanfront hotel his family has run since 1961. Jim also had a big idea, to help revitalize downtown, and showcase Old Orchard Beach as a year-round destination.
Danny Lafayette is another busy man. Among the 27 hotels he owns as part of Lafayette Hotels are the Waves Oceanfront Resort and the Sea View Inn, on the beach next to Jim’s place. Danny attended West Point with Fred Kennedy owner of several hotels including; The Alouette Beach Resort, Beachwalk Oceanfront Inn and the Neptune Motel. Fred approached Pierre Janelle,owner of the Edgewater Motor Inn. Together, this community minded group of hoteliers operate as the coalition called “Friends on Old Orchard Street”. Their common goals; revitalize the center of town, extend the shoulder season, create year-round rental housing, and support the revisited mission of the town of Old Orchard Beach into a four-season community.
Since its’ inception, some of the faces have changed. With the untimely passing of Jim and his loving wife Maxine, their daughters Claudia and Justine have taken over. With the help of their family, the girls have been able to maintain their professional careers well as keep Jim’s vision alive as they maintain their important role in Old Orchards’ community. For example they sponsor events such as the annual “James and Maxine Pouravelis Scholarship Fund Run/Race”. The Town of Old Orchard has been active as well and everyone can see and feel the difference. Since the commitment of the “Friends on Old Orchard Street”, others have began to follow suit. Last year for the second time, the town awarded $250,000.00 in funds to improve facades on several other buildings in the downtown area. It seems as though the bug has caught on and Old Orchard Beach is on its’ way again!