WATERVILLE — City councilors were expected Tuesday to consider approving the city’s lease of 42 spaces in the city-owned parking lot on Front Street to Colby College for use by a boutique hotel Colby plans to build at 9 Main St. but voted instead to postpone until April 4 their consideration of the request.

City Manager Michael Roy said he got a call late Tuesday afternoon from a Colby official asking that the council postpone voting.

“They need more time to investigate their options for the property,” Roy said.

Colby officials in January announced that The Olympia Cos. of Portland will build and manage the hotel on the site of the former Levine’s clothing store lot at the south end of Main Street. But the hotel would need parking spaces, and the council on Tuesday was to have considered leasing 42 of the 60 sparking spaces to Colby for that purpose. The proposal was to lease the space for 99 years, at a cost of $1 per year.

The request sparked controversy from business people and employees downtown who use the lot and would be forced to walk farther away to park, such as at Head of Falls, where plenty of parking space is available.

The 42-room boutique hotel with a restaurant will be owned by Colby and is expected to be ready for occupancy in 2018.

Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president of planning, said earlier Tuesday that the hotel will create 45 permanent jobs and have an annual payroll of $1.7 million. He said the project also will create about 140 construction jobs.

Three councilors on Tuesday voted to postpone the request to April 4 and three abstained from voting. Those abstaining were Lauren Lessing, D-Ward 3, Nick Champagne, R-Ward 5, and Winifred Tate, D-Ward 6. Lessing and Tate work for Colby College. Champagne works for A.E. Hodsdon Engineers, whose employees use the parking lot on Front Street; and Champagne’s employer is Al Hodsdon, who is a member of the city’s Parking Study Committee. Councilor Nathaniel White, D-Ward 2, was absent from the meeting.

In other matters Tuesday, the council took a final vote to approve an amendment to the existing downtown tax increment financing district that removes 150 Main St. from that TIF District.

Councilors recently approved a TIF for a new $25 million residential-retail building for Colby College at 150 Main St. and the property must be removed from the existing TIF district.

The council voted on removing the property from the existing TIF district following a public hearing Tuesday on the matter. Roy said the TIF amendment is subject to approval by the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

Champagne voted against the TIF amendment. Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1, as well as councilors Lessing, Tate, Sydney Mayhew, R-Ward 4 and Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7, voted for the amendment.

Colby is investing more than $45 million downtown in not only the hotel and residential complex, but also in renovations to the former Hains building at 173 Main St.

The efforts are part of ongoing work to help revitalize the downtown and bring more people to live, work, shop, eat and patronage arts and cultural-related venues — and ultimately make downtown a destination spot and help boost the economy.

Roy and others have said the Colby dormitory, boutique hotel and Hains building renovation are major keys to downtown revitalization, and having parking for the hotel is critical to the project.

The Front Street parking lot owned by the city is directly behind where the hotel will be built and separated only by Front Street itself.

Colby also owns the former Waterville Hardware building at 14-20 Main St., across the street from where the hotel will be built. Colby officials have said that building possibly would be demolished and a mixed-use building constructed in its place.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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