WATERVILLE — Colby College has purchased another building in downtown Waterville, adding to the three properties the college has bought up in the past few months.

The newest purchase is 13-15 Appleton St. across the street from the Hains building and behind the Selah Tea cafe on Main Street. The property includes a two-story brick building that houses the Resurrection Life Church and an adjacent parking lot.

The college completed the purchase through a limited liability company earlier this week, said Ruth Jackson, Colby’s vice president for communications. Like other properties it has bought, Colby isn’t revealing precise plans for the building.

“These are part of a larger downtown plan, but the particular use is still under consideration,” Jackson said.

In the last four months, Colby has bought three blighted Main Street properties as part of a long-term revitalization project in downtown Waterville.

College officials envision a thriving downtown with residences for students and faculty, retail stores and restaurants. Colby students are envisioned as active members of the community, helping out in local charities and schools and getting knit tighter into the fabric of the community.

In July, the college bought the Hains building at 173 Main St. and the former Levine’s building at 9 Main St. In August, it bought 16-20 Main St., a building next to the Silver Street Tavern. Those buildings have been vacant for years and have been targeted for unsuccessful renovation efforts in the past.

While the college’s previous three purchases were vacant and blighted properties, the Appleton property was still being used as an active church before the college finalized the sale, Jackson said. The building was attractive because of its location across from the Hains building and its relationship to the broader downtown renewal project.

“The area of Main Street and Appleton is one that is deemed to be an important area for the revitalization effort,” Jackson said. “The opportunity presented itself, and we decided to move on it.” Jackson wouldn’t say whether the college is planning to buy more property in the city.

No one from the church responded to a voicemail left Saturday morning requesting comment on the sale. According to its website, the Resurrection Life Church is an “inter-denominational Word of God church” that holds services every Sunday morning and Thursday evening.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro said Saturday that he learned about the property sale through a news story posted online by The Echo, Colby’s student newspaper.

“We had word a couple days ago that there was a fourth property in process, but didn’t know which one it was,” Isgro said.

“It’s very exciting,” he added. “I think it is going to help with any development of the Hains building. It’s a good location to have.”

Colby President David Greene has spearheaded Colby’s involvement in the downtown revitalization project, helping to lead a steering committee of business owners, government officials and community representatives to discuss the future vision of Main Street Waterville. In its final meeting last month, the committee outlined changes that include slowing traffic on Main Street, making downtown more pedestrian-friendly and beautifying the cityscape. In an address to the City Council in early October, Greene said he expected to see significant differences in the city’s downtown in coming years.

“In five years we should see a Main Street that is much more vital,” Greene said at the council meeting. Greene, who was inaugurated as Colby’s president last year, came to the college from the University of Chicago, where he led a similar revitalization effort in a blighted retail area near that school’s campus.

Some of the buildings bought by the college might be too damaged for restoration and may have to be razed, Greene said in a September interview. At the time, he said the college does not plan to own the buildings forever and wants to help create a “sustainable, market-driven economy.”

Waterville Main Street director Jennifer Olsen said Saturday that the purchase of the Appleton Street property should stimulate debate among the Waterville community about what it wants to see in the downtown revitalization. As a private property owner, Colby will do what it wants with the buildings, but it is up to the public to have their say in terms of what it would like to see come out of the new developments.

The Colby purchases provide a space for “civic engagement and robust discussion about where we are as a community and where we go from here,” Olsen said.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire


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