WATERVILLE — Workers on Monday blocked off the northeast tip of The Concourse downtown and installed concrete barriers along Main Street where a $25 million Colby College residential and retail complex will be built, marking the first official day of activity at the site.

Those who normally park in the 90 spaces that are displaced as part of the project were encouraged to park in the south central area of The Concourse or at Head of Falls. As part of a new parking configuration, long-term parking spots are now at the south central part of The Concourse and short-term, or two-hour parking, is reserved for the perimeter of the lot near businesses.

The sidewalk along Main Street next to the construction site was blocked off as heavy equipment plucked and removed small trees along that sidewalk and tore up granite curbing inside the construction zone. The parking lot lights inside that zone also were to be removed and the granite, lights, bricks and anything else that is salvageable will be given back to the city to use for other parts of The Concourse or for other projects. The street lights along Main Street in front of the site will remain where they are for now.

Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for Elm City LLC, an affiliate of Colby College, and Scott Cristina, senior superintendent for Landry/French Construction Co., of Scarborough, said a 6-foot-tall chain link construction fence will be installed Wednesday around the construction area.

“We need to prohibit this site for security reasons,” Ureneck said Monday afternoon on Main Street. “We can’t have people walking into it, so it really needs to be secure.”

Cristina said workers are exploring sub-surface utilities on the site and ensuring they will connect to the right lines on the building plans. Ureneck said utilities there need to be relocated. The 100,000-square-foot building will have retail space on the first floor and student and staff apartments on upper floors. A glassed-in space for use by Colby and the community will be on the northeast corner of the building and activities inside will be visible to passersby on the street.


Brian Clark, vice president of planning for Colby, also was at the site Monday and said it appeared the new parking arrangement is working, as there were a lot of cars parked at the center of The Concourse and plenty of open spaces in front of businesses.

Across the street at the former Hains building which Colby owns, renovation work was in full swing Monday.

“It’s on schedule, on budget,” Ureneck said. “We’ll be ready for occupancy in August. We’re doing well.”

Leading a tour of the inside of the building, which is about 22,000 square feet in size, Ureneck said about 90 percent of the windows have been replaced with new windows. The intent is to lease the first floor to two different retail businesses and there has been a fair amount of interest in those spaces from businesses in the southern and northern parts of the state, according to Ureneck. The third and fourth floors will be leased to CGI Group, a technology company that is housed temporarily at Hathaway Creative Center and plans to have some 200 employees within a few years, though not all at 173 Main. Colby will have some offices on the second floor.

An addition is being built on the back of the building off Appleton Street, which will serve as a main entrance for people working on upper floors. It also will have a stairwell and elevator, Ureneck said.

“We basically stripped the building to its structural elements,” he said, adding that mechanical, electrical and plumbing are all new. The building has been completely insulated, sheet rock put up and new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning ductwork installed.


The windows on upper floors, particularly the fourth floor, afford spectacular views of the city, and the ceiling on that floor is very high.

“We tore out probably three levels of ceilings before we got to this,” Ureneck said.

On the outside of the building, constructed in 1902, wrought iron bars on the first-floor windows of the former Waterville Savings Bank were removed, are being stripped and refinished and will be replaced to maintain the historical appearance of the building, according to Ureneck. Bricks on the outside of the building will be cleaned and re-pointed.

Meanwhile, at the site of the former Levine’s building at 9 Main St., work is being done to the wall that Camden National Bank shared with the Levine’s building before Levine’s was demolished earlier this year.

“The work I’m doing there now is just protective work,” Ureneck said. “Now, that wall is exposed to the elements. It’s a material called ‘gunnite’ I’m going to coat that whole wall with. It’s basically just structural improvements to that wall now that it is serving as an exterior wall.”

Gunnite is a mixture of cement, sand and water.


Ureneck and Clark said the hotel is being designed, and the construction start date has yet to be determined. Clark said he thinks it may start in late summer or early fall. The 42-room hotel with a restaurant is expected to employ 45 people and have an annual payroll of $1.7 million. It is expected to create 140 construction jobs.

With the hotel, dormitory and Hains building projects, Colby is infusing more than $45 million into downtown projects. Clark and Ureneck said the city, businesses and Colby have worked well together and everyone is working as a team on downtown revitalization.

“We’re just excited that we’re at this point,” Clark said, adding revitalization should help increase the city’s tax base, create jobs and improve the basic economic profile.

The City Council on May 2 is scheduled to take a final vote on whether to lease space in the city-owned lot on Front Street to Colby for use by the hotel.

Amy Calder — 861-9247


Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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