WATERVILLE — The Planning Board on March 6 will consider preliminary and final plans for a proposed $25 million Colby College downtown student residential complex on part of The Concourse that will include a retail use on the ground floor.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chamber at The Center at 93 Main St.
Colby officials have said they want to break ground on the project this spring and have the five-story building, which would consist of about 100,000 square feet, ready for occupancy in the fall of 2018.
The 200 students living in the building would be part of a special curriculum involving civic engagement, and the building design will reflect that college-community interaction.
The corner of the building at Main and Appleton streets will include a large, glassed-in community forum that may be used as a meeting space by Colby, the public, city, businesses, nonprofit organizations and other community groups, according to Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president of planning.
“We thought that would be a natural way to reach out to the community and bring people into the building in interesting ways,” Clark said.
As part of the civic engagement program, the Colby students would work with community groups such as the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, Waterville Public Library, social service organizations and art organizations. Glassed-in spaces on the floors above the forum space will be common areas used for student academic purposes and will be visible to people on the streets below. The ground floor would be set back about 16 feet from the sidewalk on Main Street, and the upper stories would include overhangs to add a new experience on Main Street designed to allow for a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly corridor and possibly space for outdoor seating on the street, according to Clark. He said the contemporary building, designed by the architecture firm Ayers Saint Gross of Baltimore, Maryland, will complement the historic architecture that now exists on Main Street.
The building’s exterior may include stone such as granite on the ground level, as well as brick, glass and metal panels on upper floors.
The retail space on the ground floor would be located south of the forum space on Main Street; the number and type of retail spaces have not yet been determined.
The final step in the process for the residential complex approval is scheduled for the next day, March 7, when the City Council will take a second and final vote on whether to approve a tax increment financing district and development plan for the project.
Meanwhile, the council on Tuesday is expected to take a final vote on whether to sell the northeast corner of The Concourse to Colby for $300,000 for the residential complex, having taken a first vote on the sale earlier this month. A first vote on the TIF and related development plan is expected Tuesday.
The Planning Board on March 6 will review multiple aspects of the proposed building at 150 Main St., including the size and number of floors, whether there are adequate parking and building setbacks, whether Colby has the financial means to complete the project, and other requirements, according to Planning Board Chairman Paul Lussier.
“The Planning Board will look at whether they have letters from the fire chief, sewer and water departments, City Engineer Greg Brown,” Lussier said. “Our job is not to talk about taxes, whether they should be paying or not paying — that’s not our job as a planning board. They’ll have multiple sheets of blueprints showing everything, all the utilities in the ground, elevations for drainage patterns, setbacks.”
Lussier said he thinks Colby will have everything needed to present to the board, and officials have put a lot of effort into the project so far.
“Speaking for myself as a Planning Board member, I don’t anticipate there will be any issues with that,” Lussier said.
Colby officials on Feb. 6 presented an informal pre-application for the project to the board.
Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for both Colby and Elm City LLC, an affiliate of Colby that is proposing the project, said the building would have four- and six-bedroom apartments for students, to include full kitchens and common living areas. There also would be two-bedroom apartments for faculty members and one-bedroom units for resident assistants.
Students would have an option of cooking in their apartments or going to the dining hall at the Colby campus on Mayflower Hill.
A shuttle would be available to travel to and from the college campus, and those who have vehicles probably would park in the Colby-owned lot off Appleton Street that once was the site of the Waterville Elks building, which the college bought and then demolished.
The student residential complex is part of Colby’s efforts to work with the city to help the city revitalize the downtown. The upper floors of the residential complex would not be taxable because the college is tax-exempt, but the TIF agreement for the retail part of the building would include money in lieu of taxes.
The construction manager for the project is Landry/French Construction Co., of Scarborough.
Colby’s investment in the residential complex, renovation of the Hains building across the street at 173 Main St., and construction of a boutique hotel at 9 Main St. represents $40 million to $45 million, according to Clark.
In other matters at the March 6 meeting, the board will consider a request from Trafton Properties Inc. that revisions be made to screening requirements of the Industrial Park Zone to help attract a new business to the former Wyandotte building at 988 West River Road. Lussier said the board only may recommend changes to the City Council, and the council would make the final decision on any zone changes.
The board also will consider a request from Sanderson Development LLC to revise a previously approved site plan for a 6,000-square-foot addition to Pine Tree Mall at 369 Main St.
Amy Calder — 861-9247