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Kennebunkport gets a facelift as outside development team remakes a classic Maine town

Joshua Benoliel and his wife, Gwenaelle Benoliel, waited to dine at Earth restaurant, among the new spots to eat in the Kennebunks.
Joshua Benoliel and his wife, Gwenaelle Benoliel, waited to dine at Earth restaurant, among the new spots to eat in the Kennebunks. Fred Field for the boston globe

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KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — It is a damp Friday morning in late June, hardly tourist weather, but Dock Square is jammed with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Undeterred by the rain, people pour into the retail district’s shops, which feature products such as lobster-designed handbags, locally-made pottery, T-shirts and kitschy knickknacks. Others stand patiently in line at the Clam Shack to buy one of the restaurant’s signature lobster rolls.

It’s been like this for years in Kennebunkport, a town of about 3,900 year-round residents whose sandy beaches, rocky outcroppings, postcard-perfect scenery and fishing-village charm make it a vacation destination. But look around this season and it’s clear changes are underway . A group called Kennebunkport Resort Collection, led by two Massachusetts-bred entrepreneurs, has built or renovated nine hotels and seven restaurants—including four this summer alone.

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