WATERVILLE — The historic Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street has been sold for about $20 million, signaling a new era for the renovated mill building that heralded downtown revitalization efforts now in full swing.

The building flanking the Kennebec River at the southern gateway to downtown Waterville was sold to North River Hathaway LLC by Hathaway Mill PO LLC under an agreement that was signed Feb. 10 and announced Thursday.

Hathaway Mill PO LLC listed the mill for sale in August with Chris Paszyc and Joe Porta, of The Boulos Co.; and North River was represented by CBRE/The Boulos Co. in Portland.

The former Waterville shirt factory was renovated several years ago and transformed into retail offices and 67 high-end apartments in an effort that helped jump-start downtown revitalization hopes. Those efforts are gaining momentum now that Colby College has bought a number of properties downtown with plans to build and renovate structures to bring hundreds more people to live, work and patronize businesses downtown.

Paszyc, the listing broker on the sale, said in an interview Thursday that the Hathaway sale agreement reinforces a belief in the future of downtown Waterville. Paszyc, of Farmingdale, also spent five years as director of planning and development for the city of Gardiner.

“I think this is indicative of what is to come in downtown Waterville,” said Paszyc, who also was town manager 15 years ago in nearby Madison. “This is building on Colby’s recent investments, plus the Alfond Foundation’s investments and a variety of other developers and investors embarking on projects in the downtown and indicative of what is to come in the future.”

The property was listed on loopnet.com as a five-story, 236,000-square-foot mill building at 10 Water St. that in September was 83 percent leased.

The building dates to 1876, when it was operated as a cotton manufacturing mill. C.F. Hathaway & Co., founded in the 19th century, made shirts in the building until 2003, when it closed. Paul Boghossian redeveloped the mill building for about $30 million.

A Rhode Island resident, Boghossian is a graduate of Colby College. The sellers purchased the property in 2006.

Boghossian could not be reached for comment on the sale Thursday, but Waterville City Manager Michael Roy gave him much of the credit for believing in the city and turning the downtown around even during the throes of a national economic recession.

“The city is eternally grateful to Mr. B. and to the Neimann Capital group for taking a risk 10 years ago in the purchase of an abandoned mill building near the heart of our downtown,” Roy said. “I strongly believe that it was that purchase that started the revitalization process that we still see going on in the downtown.

“The development of that property has to be one of the most significant things to have happened to this city in the past 10 years.”

Roy said that, while city officials are sorry to see them sell, they know that the other two vacant mill buildings beside Hathaway are still available for improvement and are hopeful that positive things will happen there soon. Boghossian said in September that he will continue to own the adjacent former Central Maine Power Co. and Marden’s industrial buildings and that selling his part in Hathaway will give him more capital to invest in the other two buildings.

“We also are very confident that the new buyers will be dedicated to caring for this property, because of their strong track record with other such properties across the state,” Roy said.

Significant tenants in the office space at the Hathaway Creative Center include MaineGeneral Health, Cengage Learning and Collaborative Consulting.

The buyer, an affiliate of North River Co., was represented by Drew Sigfridson, of The Boulos Co. North River Co. is a New York-based commercial real estate development firm with several significant assets in Maine, including the Fort Andross Mill in Brunswick; and the Pierce Atwood building and One and Two Portland Square, both in Portland, according to the release.

The apartments are fully leased, and the property offers a unique mix of amenities that appeals to tenants including an on-site gymnasium, a business center, parking and access to the navigable Kennebec River, according to a news release from CBRE/New England.

While the Hathaway Creative Center is listed by the city as having an assessed value, of the building and parking lot, of about $9 million, Paszyc said the $20 million sale price reflects the property’s actual value to the buyers.

He said the price tag was a function of the income that was created through the lease with MaineGeneral Medical Center and the 67 market-rate apartments on site.

“Investors typically valuate property as a function of the net operating income that is generated,” he said. “It is still about 83 percent occupied, but the buyers looked at the vacant space as upside, which will create more value in the long run.”

Paszyc said the Hathaway sale is part of the big picture of the rebirth of the city of Waterville.

Alfond Foundation Chairman Greg Powell announced the Alfond Leaders program this week in the Hains building, downtown, where the technology company CGI Group will move this summer and plans to bring about 200 jobs to the area in the next few years. Colby College, a partner in the Alfond initiative, is renovating that building with a $5 million infusion of cash and is investing about $45 million in the downtown overall as part of the city and Colby’s efforts to revitalize the downtown and bring more people living and working downtown. The Hains building will have retail uses on the first floor.

The Waterville City Council on March 21 will consider leasing parking spaces in a city-owned public parking lot at the south end of Front Street — just up the road from the Hathaway Creative Center — to Colby College for use by a planned hotel across the street.

The Alfond Foundation joined Colby last year in announcing a $20 million investment toward downtown revitalization. Colby has bought several buildings downtown, including the Hains building; the former Elks building on Appleton Street, which was demolished to make way for parking; the former Levine’s building on Main Street, which also was razed, and where Colby plans to build a 42-room boutique hotel with a restaurant; and the former Waterville Hardware building across the street.

Colby plans to build a $25 million student residential complex on the northeast part of The Concourse. About 200 students, as well as staff and faculty members, will live in the building and be part of a special civic engagement program. The first floor will include retail uses and will house a glassed-in forum space that may be used by the public for meetings.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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