WATERVILLE — The owner of KMD Plaza on the south side of Kennedy Memorial Drive is developing a similar plaza on the north side.
Bill Mitchell recently bought 295 Kennedy Memorial Drive and is turning it into Penney Hill Park, which will feature six storefronts he plans to lease.
“I think it will be a combination of some light retail, food service or office space — perhaps a doctor’s office — similar to what I have at KMD Plaza,” Mitchell said.
He estimates the businesses will employ 35 to 40 people when the spaces are full.
Goodwill Industries of Northern New England is already the anchor tenant at his new property, having signed a lease late last month.
“I had been approached by Goodwill Industries, and they were interested in leasing that part of the building — the upper level,” Mitchell said. “They’re in, and they’re up and running.”
LifeWorks, a Goodwill Industries community support program for people with cognitive disabilities, is housed in the west side of the building.
The building, which is just under 24,000 square feet, formerly housed a number of businesses, including Furbush Chevrolet, Frame Chevrolet, Avian Farms and Thorndike Press, according to Mitchell. It has been vacant about a year.
Mitchell, who also owns GHM Insurance Agency on Main Street, bought the property from R-W Corp.
A second, 4,000-square-foot building stands behind the main building facing the street, and the entire property is about eight acres, according to Mitchell.
“My hope over time is to continue to develop the rest of the site with either additional office facilities and/or retail,” he said.
Mitchell named his new plaza for a farm that was on the site many years ago and operated by a family whose last name was Penney.
“Before KMD was developed as we know it today, that whole area of Waterville was farmland and undeveloped land,” he said. “Penney Hill Farm was located in and around that property. The farmhouse was actually on what is now 295 KMD.”
That property is across the road from Central Maine Motors Auto Group. Mitchell said the little hill that crests Kennedy Memorial Drive at J&S Oil was known as Penney Hill many years ago.
As one looks at Penney Hill Park from the road, the six storefronts are being developed on the east side of the building. Each space is a little under 2,000 square feet, Mitchell said.
Mitchell said he is optimistic that he will begin leasing the storefronts by spring.
“I think we’ll see continuing improvement in the overall economy, and I think the state of Maine and the greater Waterville area will continue to move in a positive direction.”
Kimberly N. Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, said she was thrilled to learn Mitchell had bought the land and buildings, because he is a conscientious and thoughtful property owner who is good to his tenants.
“It’s going to look good and it’s going to stay looking good, because they take care of their investments,” she said.
Amy Calder — 861-9247