WATERVILLE — City councilors on Tuesday will consider leasing 30 parking spaces in the city-owned Front Street lot to Colby College for use by a boutique hotel Colby plans to build on the former Levine’s clothing store site at 9 Main St.

The 30 spaces on the west side of the lot would be leased exclusively to Colby for 40 years, at $28 per space per month, as part of the proposed terms and conditions of the lease. In addition,12 spaces on the southeast part of the lot would be allowed for hotel use from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. and for public use between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to the proposal.

After 20 years, the cost to lease the west side of the lot would increase to $50 per parking space.

Also as part of the plan, Colby would be responsible for all plowing, striping, maintenance and repair to the entire lot.

City and Colby officials estimate the lease of spaces would give the city $10,000 per year, as well as another $24,000 saved from the city not being responsible for maintaining the lot — for a total of $34,000 per year.

The lease proposal was developed by Colby and city officials, including City Manager Michael Roy; City Solicitor Bill Lee; Council Chairman Steve Soule, D-Ward 1; Councilor Jackie Dupont, D-Ward 7; Doug Terp, Colby’s vice president for administration and chief financial officer; and Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president of planning.

Councilors on Tuesday plan to take a first of two votes needed to approve the lease terms and conditions, and a second vote in two weeks. Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the council chamber at The Center downtown.

Roy said Saturday he is pleased with the proposal and thinks it benefits both the city and Colby.

“I’m very happy that the city was able to negotiate the terms and that Colby was willing to realize the impact of lost parking and that there’s a value to that parking,” Roy said. “It’s a recognition of the lost value.”

The city no longer will have to maintain the lot, which includes paving, during the term of the lease, he said.

The 42-room boutique hotel with a restaurant is expected to employ 45 people. The city ordinance requires that the hotel have one parking space per room, and the city wanted to recognize that fact in trying to develop a lease proposal, according to Roy.

Colby President David A. Greene said in an interview last week that without parking, the hotel would not be built; and if the hotel is not built, a planned $25 million student residential complex at 150 Main St. also could not be built.

Roy said those who developed the proposed parking lease recognize the hotel will not be occupied fully every day and that shared parking on the southeast corner of the Front Street lot could help accommodate the hotel when it is full. When the hotel is not full, those spaces can be shared by everyone, he said.

The lot has 60 spaces, so the remaining 18 spaces on the northeast part of the lot would remain open for public parking during the term of the lease. Roy said people who park in the lot now and need alternative space may park at nearby Head of Falls or on The Concourse. The proposed lease prohibits hotel or associated restaurant employees from parking in the lot. Also, the lease would end if the hotel property ceases to be used as a hotel, and Colby may not charge for use of the lot unless the city implements a pay-for-parking system in the downtown, according to the proposal. The final form of the lease is subject to Lee’s approval.

The city initially had proposed leasing 42 spaces in the lot to Colby for $1 a year, for 99 years, but it became clear there was not support on the council for such a plan. Councilors on March 24 voted to postpone considering the proposal to allow for a more palatable agreement to be reached.

That proposed lease was similar to others the city has developed in the past, such as the lease for Hathaway Creative Center.

Clark on Saturday echoed Roy’s comments about the new Front Street lease proposal, saying it was helpful to sit with city officials to work out an agreement.

“We understand the challenges that the councilors were facing with the deal initially proposed by the city for $1 a year and a 99-year lease,” Clark said.

He said he thinks both sides ended up in a good spot. The city estimated it spends about $400 on maintenance and operation per downtown parking space per year, so $400 times 60 spaces is $24,000 a year the city would not have to spend for that purpose. And the city would realize about $10,000 a year in lease fees from the Front Street lot.

“The net to the city is about $34,000 a year,” Clark said.

If councilors approve the agreement Tuesday and then again April 11, the hotel and residential complex projects will move forward, according to Clark.

“We’re ready to go,” he said. “We’re talking to architects for the hotel now.”

Roy said the hotel project is one of three important pieces to downtown revitalization.

“The apartment complex, the renovation of 173 Main St. and this one — those are three key components to the revitalization,” he said.

He was referring to a plan by Colby to invest more than $45 million into the hotel, the residential complex and renovation of the former Hains building at 173 Main St. downtown. Colby bought the northeast part of The Concourse for $300,000 and plans to start this spring putting up a 100,000-square-foot building for about 200 Colby students and staff and faculty members involved in a civic engagement curriculum. The building will have retail space on the first floor, as well as a glassed-in forum for both Colby and community use.

Across the street, Colby is renovating the former Hains building, which is expected to be completed this summer, and employees from CGI Group are planning to move to the upper floors. CGI, which has more than 30 employees temporarily working in a space at Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street, plans to increase its number of employees to about 200 downtown over the next few years, though they would not all fit into the Hains building. Colby would have an office on the second floor of the building and the first floor will be retail.

Colby also bought the former Elks lodge property on nearby Appleton Street, demolished the building and is using the space for parking.

The college owns the former Waterville Hardware buildings at 14-20 Main St., across the street from where the hotel will be built. Plans for that property are still in the works. Colby officials have talked about possibly demolishing the buildings, which share a wall, and constructing a building that also would be for mixed uses.

Greene, city officials, downtown business advocates and others met over several months to determine ways to help improve downtown and support existing businesses, expand arts offerings, increase the number of people living and working downtown and generally boost economic development. The priority that arose out of those discussions was that vacant and deteriorating buildings should be addressed, which is what Colby focused on in purchasing the downtown buildings.

In other matters Tuesday, the council will consider voting to sell the city’s assets in the Penobscot Energy Recovery plant in Orrington to PERC. The city has sent its solid waste to PERC for 30 years. The city’s share of equity in the plant is $89,000, according to Roy, who said he hopes the city receives that amount before Jan. 1, 2018, and it will be placed in a solid waste reserve account.

The city’s contract with PERC expires March 31, 2018; and the next day, April 1, Waterville will start sending its waste to Waste Management-Crossroads Landfill in Norridgewock.

Councilors also will consider a final vote to spend up to $2,500 from excess franchise fee money for videotaping council meetings and budget workshops from now until July 1. Funding for videotaping was not included in the 2016-17 budget, so videotaping of meetings stopped last July, according to Roy. Cable TV franchise fees for 2016-17 were estimated to be $170,000, but the city will receive about $180,000.

The council also will consider voting to endorse creation of a Lions club in Waterville and support work performed by that organization in the community.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17


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