WATERVILLE — The future of the former Seton campus of MaineGeneral Medical Center will depend partly on what neighbors and the city want at the site.

Developer Kevin Mattson last month bought the three buildings and about 100 acres off Chase Avenue for a net price of $500,000.

He said his process for developing the property will include public forums and discussions with city officials.

“It’s going to be a process that’s up-front and public,” Mattson said Friday.

Mattson, president of Dirigo Capital Advisors LLC, of Portland, said MaineGeneral plans use the 160,000-square-foot Seton hospital building into late 2014.

MaineGeneral also will lease from Dirigo the two smaller, 10,000 and 4,000-square-foot buildings used for a behavioral health center and sleep study center, according to Mattson.

“They’ll continue to have a significant presence on campus,” he said.

Mattson plans to enlist ideas for the former Seton hospital building in the next two months. People are already emailing him at setonwaterville.com to make suggestions and share their memories of the campus, particularly the hospital, he said.

“A lot of people have had life-changing experiences there,” he said. “The idea of tearing it down is a little sad. There’s a lot of history there.”

Mattson said he bought the site for several reasons, not the least of which is that he likes working with MaineGeneral (he also bought MaineGeneral’s Augusta campus for reuse as offices).

He said MaineGeneral is “a very well-run organization.”

The former hospital site is good for development because it’s near Interstate 95, Colby College, First Rangeway and Kennedy Memorial Drive, Mattson said.

But the building, while in good shape, has a 1950s design, low ceilings and no air conditioning. Mattson said he’s prohibited as part of an agreement with MaineGeneral to use it as a hospital, but it could be used as residential property or for community space, among other things. Mattson said he does not see it being used for offices.

The building was appraised last year for between $2.5 and $3.5 million, but because of the restrictions, the sale price was much lower. Mattson says the price reflects the fact that it would likely be a tear-down, but he would rather find a use for it. Tearing it down is estimated at about $1 million, he said.

“We’re going to try the residential option really hard,” he said.

Mattson’s company controls or manages more than $200 million in commercial properties, according to its website. He said he has developed between 50 and 100 buildings and 95 percent are older buildings.

“We’re redevelopers, so we’re attracted to older properties. Some are historic; some are just old. We like redeveloping because you already have the infrastructure in place. It makes sense from a planning perspective.”

The project of which he is most proud, he said, is a digital plant he bought 10 years ago in north Augusta and turned into offices. That whole area now is developed and it is about a mile from the new regional hospital, he said.

“There’s been an explosion of development out on Civic Center Drive,” he said.

Mattson has spoken with Mayor Karen Heck and City Manager Michael Roy about his plans to seek public input on the Seton property; he said he also plans to approach Waterville Development Corp. to brainstorm uses, and touch base with City Planner Ann Beverage.

In buying the property, Mattson has turned it from a non taxpaying entity to one that generates taxes for the city.

Amy Calder — 861-9247
[email protected]

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