WATERVILLE — A planned $25 million residential complex for Colby College on the northeast tip of The Concourse downtown is poised to win final city approvals in the coming week, clearing the way for construction to start.
The City Council on Tuesday will consider a final vote to approve a tax increment financing district and related development plan for the complex at 150 Main St. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chamber at The Center at 93 Main St. downtown.
On Monday, the Planning Board is set to vote on approval for a final site plan for the 100,000-square-foot building.
City Manager Michael Roy said the purchase and sale agreement for the city’s sale of The Concourse property to Colby for $300,000 was finalized this past Wednesday and he expected the transfer to be completed in about a week.
He said the property sale and construction would represent the first visible, concrete step in the partnership between the city and Colby to make improvements downtown.
“Everything before now has been planning and discussion and talking, but this sale represents the first true commitment of a city-Colby partnership,” he said. “The approval of the TIF and the sale of the lot, I think, represents the city’s commitment to this revitalization process.”
In a related matter, councilors will consider a final vote to remove that part of The Concourse property from the current downtown TIF district, to allow for the new Colby TIF.
Colby officials expect construction to start soon on the five-story complex, scheduled to open in August 2018. It would house 200 Colby students as well as staff and faculty members in apartments on upper floors, with retail on the ground floor.
The students would be involved in a special civic engagement curriculum and in downtown activities. The building also would have a glassed-in forum room on the first floor that will be available for public use, in keeping with the community partnership, civic engagement theme.
The council voted last year to sell the 0.77-acre site on The Concourse for $300,000 on the condition that if the property becomes tax-exempt, the college would make payments in lieu of taxes. On Feb. 7, the council voted to amend that original agreement to delete the condition and allow collection of future property taxes through a TIF district.
While the upper floors would be tax-exempt, the first floor would be taxable. The city’s method for assessing the tax value of the first-floor retail would yield about $36,000 in taxes; but as part of the TIF agreement, Colby plans to pay extra money in lieu of taxes, totaling $65,000 a year.
The complex represents one of several projects Colby is working on downtown to the tune of more than $45 million. The Hains building across the street is being renovated for more than $5 million and is expected to be completed this summer, and construction of a 42-room boutique hotel with restaurant on the former Levine’s clothing store lot at 9 Main St. is expected to start this year.
In other matters Tuesday, the council will consider taking a final vote to approve spending $53,000 for design of a river walk at Head of Falls. The Waterville Rotary Club donated $150,000 to a river walk, and the $53,000 would be reimbursed to the city through a grant, according to Roy. He said approval of spending that money is the final step before the city puts the project out to bid.
Amy Calder — 861-9247