WATERVILLE — Construction fencing will be installed Thursday and Friday around the site of a planned $25 million Colby College residential complex at 150 Main St., in the heart of downtown.

Workers will move equipment to the northeast tip of The Concourse within two weeks, and construction is to begin this summer on the college dormitory building, which will have retail shops on the first floor.

That was the word Tuesday from those overseeing construction of the five-story, 100,000-square-foot building intended to house Colby students and staff members on upper floors and retail uses and a glassed-in community meeting space on the ground floor. The building is scheduled to open in August 2018 and is one of several projects totaling more than $45 million that Colby is orchestrating downtown.

Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for Colby and Elm City LLC, who is overseeing downtown development, met Tuesday with owners and officials from businesses located around the construction site to update them on a construction schedule, answer questions and address concerns those abutting property owners might have.

“We’re getting very close to starting construction on the project,” Ureneck told about 20 people who attended Tuesday’s gathering. “One of the things that I’ve learned over time is, one of the keys to a successful project is keeping all the local constituents informed of what’s going on — that people can deal with anything as long as they know about it. We understand that this is a huge project for the town. From what I understand, it’s the first really major construction project in what may be the past 50 years.”

They met at the former Hains building at 173 Main St., located across the street from where the dormitory will be built. As part of downtown revitalization efforts, Colby also bought the former Hains building and is renovating it at a cost of more than $5 million. Colby also plans to build a 42-room boutique hotel at 9 Main St., the site of the now-demolished Levine’s building.

Employees of the technology firm CGI Group plan to move into the third and fourth floors of the former Hains building this summer when renovations are complete. Ureneck said Colby plans to have some administrative offices on the second floor, and retail businesses yet to be identified will be on the first floor of 173 Main.

The residential complex will house about 200 Colby students and staff members involved in a special civic engagement/community service curriculum. While Colby officials expect to hold meetings in the glassed-in forum, it also is being offered to the city, nonprofit organizations and others, to be used for community gatherings.

The city has signed a purchase and sale agreement selling the 0.77-acre lot to Colby for $300,000, and the property deed changed hands last week, according to City Manager Mike Roy.

In addition to installing fencing around the residential complex construction site, concrete barriers also will be placed along Main Street as a safety measure, Ureneck said. The fencing along Main and Appleton streets will be held from the curb line so parking spaces will remain open and available to the public during construction, he said.

There will be times when water mains and other items will need to be moved and workers will have to get into the street for a day or two, but there will be traffic control and the public will be informed ahead of time, according to Ureneck. He introduced Kevin French, co-owner of Landry/French Construction Co., of Scarborough, which is working on the project; Scott Cristina, senior superintendent for Landry/French, who will be overseeing day-to-day construction operations; and Derek Albert, senior project manager for Landry/French. Also attending the meeting was Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president of planning.

Ureneck said project officials will work with him to prepare a three-week look-ahead schedule, and Ureneck will condense that information and use it to update people about what’s going to happen at the site. Regular updates will be posted on the website WatervillePartnership.org, which has been set up by Colby information technology officials, he said. Those wanting to get regular updates in their email accounts may do so by adding their addresses to that site, he said.

“That is, once again, a technique that we hope to employ during the entire course of this project — just communicating with folks to keep them abreast of everything,” Ureneck said.

During the summer, flatbed trucks will travel to the construction site carrying pre-cast concrete floor, or decking, panels fabricated off-site, he said. Those panels, which are 30 or 40 feet by 4 feet in size, will possibly be kept at a stockpile yard in Fairfield and trucked through Benton and across the Ticonic Bridge to a temporary staging area at Head of Falls, before being trucked to the downtown construction site via Appleton Street. This is expected to occur daily during the summer. The panels will be lifted by cranes at the site, according to Ureneck.

Workers will be on site from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and will not work on weekends.

Paul Lessard, owner of Beverly’s Cards & Gifts store on The Concourse, asked whom people should contact if they have problems or concerns.

“It’s critical that there be someone we can go to,” said Lessard, who has been in business 34 years and on The Concourse since the early 1990s. He also has owned a Beverly’s store at Elm Plaza since 2002.

French, Albert and Cristina emphasized that they are always available to answer questions and address concerns.

“My name and phone number will be mounted right onto the fence,” Cristina said. “You can call me anytime. I’ll be on the job site.”

French concurred, adding: “Safety is going to be key to this project,” he said. “We take it very seriously.”

Ureneck said Landry/French is experienced working in tight, urban sites. French said officials are happy to meet regularly with abutters, to which Susan Giguere, owner of the health care business Care & Comfort, responded that she has a conference room available for that purpose. Care & Comfort is at the corner of Main and Appleton streets.

Mike Stair, operations manager of Care & Comfort, said that at least three times a day, Kennebec Valley Community Action Program vans and taxis pick up and drop off clients at the health care business and the vans, particularly, double park in the streets. Ureneck said he and City Engineer Greg Brown could work together to possibly take some of the parking spaces and make them into a drop-off area so vehicles are not idling in the street.

“The last thing we want to do is have a tractor-trailer truck stuck in the middle of the street and not moving,” Ureneck said.

French told Giguere that if construction officials know when pickups occur, they can work around that and coordinate truck traffic accordingly.

Brown noted that one of the first things the public will see in terms of disruption is relocation of some water lines. During the construction process, everyone will coordinate to minimize disruptions, he said.

After the meeting, which lasted just under an hour, Lessard said he had come to the gathering concerned about the time frame for construction and how it would work and his questions were answered.

“That was all addressed,” he said. “There are going to be disruptions, I’m sure; but in the end, it will be all for the best.”

Giguere also said the meeting was helpful.

“We want to be good neighbors as well,” she said. “The more they can communicate with us, the more effective we can be with them.”

Al Hodsdon, owner of A.E. Hodsdon Engineers on Common Street, also was impressed.

“I thought it was good — a good meeting,” he said. “I think this is what they have to have once a week or every other week. It lets people know what’s coming, especially the neighbors. This was a good meeting. It’s the only way to keep everyone informed.”

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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