As a hospital, Waterville’s Seton was imperative to the community and it touched the lives of many. When I mention to a member of the Waterville community my involvement in the redevelopment of the former hospital, it is not uncommon to hear that the person I am speaking with (or their child) was born there. Its social stature is nearly unmatched. This is just one of the many reasons I am excited to oversee its redevelopment.

The structure turned 50 years old last year and therefore is also considered to be historically significant by the Maine State Historic Preservation Office as well as the National Park Service. By way of our redevelopment, we are able to maintain the historical integrity to the extent possible while repurposing the facility to better meet the needs of the community and keep this landmark facility in the community.

When I was asked to take over the development efforts for the former hospital, I wasn’t sure what would end up the best use for the property. It is obviously a very large facility and was very specifically constructed as a medical facility.

So my first mission was to analyze the market to determine what the community’s needs are while looking at the property and considering how it might meet those needs.

After careful research, it seemed that professional housing and office space was the best use for the property that meets the needs of the community.

Paul Boghossian and his redevelopment of The Hathaway Mill illustrated that Waterville could and should sustain professional housing. The success of The Hathaway illustrated new possibilities. When we looked deeply at the demographics of the market, it was clear that Waterville is leaking its higher paid renter population to surrounding markets and there was more demand for professional apartment units in the community.

The same is true for office space in the market. Office space available in the market with adequate parking is in short supply.

Another benefit to the community, one that affects the bottom line of everybody in the city, is the addition of the property to Waterville’s tax base. The property was under tax-exempt status while it was run as a not-for-profit health care facility. By bringing the facility into the private sector, the property has been added to Waterville’s tax rolls.

Waterville has long endeavored to develop its downtown, and attention to this project has accelerated thanks to investment by Colby College and other esteemed institutions. Colby has purchased five buildings along Maine Street in Waterville and has announced plans to construct a 200-student dormitory and redevelop one of their new buildings into a hotel. This is an exciting time for the city. These culminated efforts of hard work on the part of the town and interest on the part of the college have inspired developers and investors to follow with their own purchases and plans for redevelopment. We are honored that our project can fit so comfortably into those efforts.

While Seton is not itself located in the downtown, in their efforts for revitalization, Colby has spent much energy courting Collaborative Consulting — an IT company — to Waterville. This appears to be the start of new companies eyeing Waterville as a place to set up shop. Companies such as these, once established, will look to recruit new employees, employees that will need housing in the area to both move to and help sway their decisions to relocate. While newly renovated housing projects located in the downtown area are appealing to much of the market, there are plenty who prefer to live outside of the downtown area, where parking is less of an issue and there is more connection with nature. Similar parking constraints of the downtown area can be a significant issue for office users as well.

We are glad to be contributing our efforts to the growth and enhancement of the city of Waterville through the redevelopment of the Seton campus. It is for this exact reason that our company focuses the majority of our efforts on redevelopment of existing structures and in-fill development projects.

Waterville has so much promise with the current attention being paid by an array of esteemed stakeholders and others in this emerging moment. We are excited to be part of it.

Tom Siegel is president of RME Property Consultants of Durham.

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