WATERVILLE — City councilors Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a tax increment financing district and related development plan for an $11 million redevelopment project at the former Seton Hospital on Chase Avenue.

The 6-0 vote, with Councilor Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2, absent, came quickly and with no discussion. Councilors also voted 6-0 to refer to the Planning Board for a public hearing and recommendation a request to rezone part of the property to allow for construction of apartments, commercial offices and warehouse space in the former hospital building.

The Planning Board would recommend the zoning change to the council, which would make a final decision.

Developer Tom Siegel, of RME Property Consultants, of Topsham, plans to build 50 one- and two-bedroom apartments in the building’s six-story tower, and most of the units would be two-bedroom. The ground level will accommodate 23,000 square feet of office space; and the lower level, 35,000 square feet of warehouse and storage space.

Tuesday’s vote on the tax district and plan was the second and final vote. The council took a first vote May 3 to approve the TIF district and redevelopment plan.

The TIF will enable property owner Kevin Mattson, managing partner in Waterville Redevelopment Corp., to pay taxes on the property and receive some of that money back as reimbursement. The TIF will be for 20 years, with about a 50 percent reimbursement rate over that period.

Siegel says he plans to start construction in August and finish the project in about 12 months. The historical integrity of the building will be retained as much as possible as part of the work. The building is eligible for historical tax credits and Siegel intends to apply for those credits, he said.

Mattson also owns the former MaineGeneral Medical Center on East Chestnut Street in Augusta, which he bought for $25 million and transformed into offices. Mattson bought the former Seton property for $500,000 in 2013. The building represents Miesian architecture, developed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. He founded the International Style of architecture, which features steel-framed and glass buildings. The building, which was originally Seton Hospital, became part of MaineGeneral in 1997.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors voted 6-0 to accept the city’s solid waste committee recommendation not to send its trash to the proposed Fiberight waste-to-energy plant after the city’s contract with Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. expires in 2018. The city plans, instead, to explore all options.

Summer Street resident Chris Moody stood to say he was frustrated that drug dealing continues in the city’s South End, and while he walks neighborhood streets, writes down license plate numbers and reports them to police, the drug dealing continues.

“It is chronic, daily, at all hours,” he said, asking what can be done.

Councilor Dana Bushee, D-Ward 6, said she sees that type of activity on her street, but probably not as often as Moody does. She said she, personally, did not have a solution, but would love to hear from police Chief Joseph Massey, who was present Tuesday.

Massey said police make drug arrests every day throughout the city and are aggressive in pursuing drug dealers. Sometimes when people do not see something happening right away, that doesn’t mean police are not doing anything, he said.

He said when tips come in, police look at them, catalog and categorize them and get a search warrant, if that is appropriate.

“All the information you give us doesn’t just go up in the air and we don’t act on it,” he said.

He said police are much more successful when the community works with them, and that is happening.

“We encourage people to report. If you don’t report it, we don’t know.”

South End resident Ralph Merrow asked Massey what people can do if there is drug activity going on in a particular house. Massey said they can call police.

“Call us, call us, call us,” he said. “When you see suspicious activity, give us a call.”

The council voted to approve a food license for Greenfield Investments, which plans to buy Jorgensen’s Cafe downtown later this month. The council also voted to sell 9 Abbott St. back to its previous owner for $8,480, which includes back taxes, administrative and legal costs and a 5 percent penalty cost.

Council Chairman John O’Donnell, D-Ward 5, recommended a 5 percent penalty be added so the city does not set a precedent of selling a property back to someone who avoids paying taxes.

Rep. Thomas R.W. Longstaff, D-Waterville, reported that a special meeting was held earlier Tuesday in Augusta attended by people interested in getting express passenger rail service in Maine, especially to Waterville and Augusta.

The three-hour meeting resulted in a group being formed to seek funding and other support for passenger rail, he said. Waterville was well represented at the meeting, he said. Kimberly Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce; businessman Charlie Giguere, president of the board of directors of Waterville Main Street; and Dan Bernier, a Waterville lawyer, were some of those who attended, according to Longstaff.

He said people at the meeting spoke enthusiastically about plans for downtown revitalization in the city.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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