WATERVILLE — City officials on Wednesday said they will work with Hathaway Creative Center developer Paul Boghossian to solve a parking issue for his complex in light of Tuesday’s vote by councilors to reject his request to lease spaces in the city-owned lot on Front Street.

But Mayor Nick Isgro Wednesday said he was disappointed the matter was voted on rather than tabled for more exploration and discussion, because Boghossian is someone who “continued to bet on Waterville.”

At that meeting, city officials, business owners, Boghossian and residents debated the need for more parking spaces for his Water Street development versus the needs of businesses, their customers and people who work downtown and use the city-owned lot.

Boghossian said that to get financing to develop two more buildings in his complex, he must show the bank he has adequate parking to meet the bank’s requirements.

He had asked to lease 50 spaces in the 60-space Front Street lot for $25 per space per year for five years.

Boghossian on Wednesday said he is confident a solution will be found.

“That was just a blip last night,” he said. “We’ll get past this because the city has been terrific — they really have. I understand the other people that got upset and said, ‘I’ve been parking there forever, for free and don’t like the change.'”

More than 500 people live and work in the former Hathaway shirt factory building in the south side of Boghossian’s complex. He has said he plans to develop the middle, or former Central Maine Power Co., building this year and when that is complete, he will develop the northernmost building, which formerly was the Marden’s Industrial building. Ideally, he said, he’d like to develop that building into a hotel.

Isgro said he is confident the city can work with Boghossian toward a solution.

“At this point, I think we need to get back to the drawing board,” he said. “The city has to work with him because what he’s doing is just as big a part of Waterville revitalization as anything else that’s going on. Here’s someone who clearly has, against all odds, continued to bet on Waterville.”

Isgro and City Manager Michael Roy spoke on Wednesday morning about the issue, and they each spoke with Boghossian as well.

“The city’s certainly willing to help in any way we can,” Roy said. “One idea we’re investigating is possible enlargement of the parking lot across from Hathaway that’s known as the old Lockwood parking lot. That’s a possibility. We’ve got a little bit more investigating to do on that.”

The city-owned lot is at the corner of Spring and Water streets and used by the Hathaway complex for parking. Roy said there may be enough city-owned land around the lot to expand it and give Boghossian the parking spaces he was seeking at Tuesday night’s council meeting. He noted that no one has measured the property to determine how many spaces could be added.

“That’s still very much under discussion,” Roy said.

Some people Tuesday night discussed the possibility of building a parking garage on that property. Roy said Wednesday that it might be possible to help fund a garage with tax increment financing money.

“I don’t think it’s possible at all to do with tax money, but with the TIF account set up with Hathaway, that could be an eligible expense,” Roy said. “But it would have to be a public-private partnership.”

Boghossian said that, over the long term, some type of structured parking garage is the solution.

“It behooves us to start working on that now,” he said.

The Front Street lot Boghossian sought to lease spaces in Tuesday is about a quarter-mile west of the Hathaway Center across busy four-lane Spring Street. It accommodates parking for local businesses including the Morning Sentinel and Waterville Family Practice, which are next door at 31 Front St., as well as several Common Street businesses.

Roy recommended the council consider leasing him 30 spaces. In the end, the council voted 6-1 to reject his request.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Boghossian said he spoke with people in the hallway who opposed his request to lease the spaces and he congratulated them for prevailing.

“This is a community that works together, so we’ll figure it out,” he said, adding that he is in “reasonably good shape” with parking spots for the main Hathaway building.

“When I go to do the other two buildings, I’m going to need more parking, and 30 spaces was just a finger in the dike,” he said. “It’s just a temporary solution.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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