WATERVILLE — City councilors voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a $25,000 forgivable loan to The Proper Pig, a pub-style restaurant and bar to open at 14 Common St. in a building owned by businessman Bill Mitchell.

Mitchell is partnering with Fred Ouellette, co-owner of the Last Unicorn restaurant, in the new eatery, to be located in a space on the first floor occupied many years ago by the Carousel restaurant.

Councilors also voted unanimously to approve food and liquor licenses for The Proper Pig.

Mitchell, owner of GHM insurance agency on Main Street, around the corner from 14 Common, bought two historic buildings on Common Street as part of downtown revitalization efforts. He had taken part last year in meetings with Colby College President David Greene, city officials and downtown advocates to help identify what is needed downtown to help draw more people there and spur economic development.

Mitchell is renovating the two buildings and has space available for lease in them, for offices, art-related ventures and other purposes.

Money for the forgivable loan comes from the city’s downtown tax increment financing district account, according to City Manager Michael Roy. The account was established about six years ago and has had two successful recipients, Selah Tea and Silver Street Tavern, he said. Both loans, for $25,000 each, were issued in 2011 and just cleared the five-year mark, he said. Those businesses did all they were supposed to do to comply with the loans’ terms, Roy said. Twenty percent was forgiven each year for five years until the principal went down to zero, he said. The businesses, he said, paid the interest on the outstanding principal as part of the loan terms.

The city’s Forgivable Loan Committee and an independent underwriter working for Kennebec Valley Council of Governments, reviewed the loan request for The Proper Pig. City Councilor Rosemary Winslow, D-Ward 3, a member of the loan committee, said the applications were reviewed thoroughly and not everyone who applies is granted a loan. She cited the former two applicants, including Selah Tea at the corner of Appleton and Main streets, as creating a good track record.

“Look at what’s happened to that corner,” Winslow said. “It has done everything that we had hoped it would do and more, to say the least.”

Councilor Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4, welcomed the new restaurant.

Mitchell, who attended the meeting with his wife, Vicki, thanked the council after the vote.

“I appreciate all your support,” he said. “Thank you very much.”

“Thank you, for the investment,” Mayor Nick Isgro told Mitchell.

The council also voted 5-0 to approve a zone change for 319 Main St., a building Mitchell also owns, so apartments can be built in a barn attached to the building.

In other matters, the council held a public hearing for a tax increment financing request for redevelopment of the former Seton Hospital on Chase Avenue. The council was not asked to vote on the request, as the TIF Advisory Committee needs more time to iron out details of the TIF terms, according to Roy. He said the committee will meet Wednesday to continue working on it.

The property is owned by Kevin Mattson. The developer, Tom Siegel, of RME Property Consultants, LLC, said the building has a six-story tower section, a ground level where the front entrance is located and a lower level. Fifty apartments are planned for the tower portion, with the majority of those apartments two-bedroom and the rest one-bedroom, Siegel said.

The first floor would be 23,000 square feet of office space, and the lower level would be commercial storage space, he said.

“Things are looking good right now,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of great responses from people in the community and we’re optimistic.”

Roy said that in two weeks, the TIF agreement is expected to be ready for councilors to vote on it.

Councilors voted 5-0 to authorize the city to dispose of tax-acquired properties; they also voted unanimously to approve a drainage easement to the state Department of Transportation as part of the Trafton Road interchange project. They approved a two-year renewal of a contract with Somerset County Communications Center for E-911 services. Council Chairman John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, asked Roy if things have gone well with Somerset and if the city is happy with the service.

“Very much,” Roy replied. “We have had no service problems that I know about.”

Councilors approved food licenses for two Dairy Queens, on College Avenue and Kennedy Memorial Drive. Chris Thorne said he bought the businesses from Duane Wheeler. Thorne and his father have owned a Dairy Queen in Brewer for 10 years, and he is excited about being in Waterville, he said.

Councilor Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7, announced the South End Neighborhood Associations’s fifth annual cleanup day, to include the city and Central Maine Disposal, will take place 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 30 and it will coincide with Colby Cares Day. Information on the city’s website is available for people needing bulky waste to be picked up, said Dupont, the association’s director. She added that the South End Bike Repair Day will be held 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. May 1 at Kennebec Valley Community Action Program on Water Street. Youths may bring bicycles to be diagnosed for problems, and then they will be fixed. Also, youths may learn how to fix their bikes at the event, she said.

Mayhew reported that at 9 a.m. Saturday, a ceremony will be held at Fran Purnell Field on Mathews Avenue to honor Purnell, who has supported youth baseball for years. Isgro; Ken Walsh, president and chief executive officer of the Alfond Youth Center; and Mayhew will speak and games will follow later in the day.

Roy reminded councilors that two more downtown revitalization meetings will be held for businesses and residents to give input and ask questions. The meetings tentatively are scheduled for 7 p.m. May 2 and 7:30 a.m. May 3.

Councilors Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, and Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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