WATERVILLE — Where many people see a run-down, vacant building with windows broken and the roof leaking, Uria Pelletier sees a diamond in the rough.

Pelletier, 35, of Rome, bought the former Waterville Boys & Girls Club building at 6 Main Place on Friday from Northern Ventures LLC, of Saco. The historic 40,000-square-foot building on 1.2 acres has been vacant and boarded up since 1999. Pelletier had been eying it for years.

A contractor, rental property owner and developer, Pelletier says the building is structurally sound and the brick interior and exterior are beautiful. He can’t wait to breathe life into it.

“This is going to be good,” he said. “Everyone will get to watch the transformation.”

While he still is exploring ideas for the building’s use after renovation, part of it will house his business, Kavestone LLC, which specializes in custom building, roofing, siding, flooring, and tile and stone installation.

He plans to dive in and work on the building, which is tucked in behind Dunkin’ Donuts on the College Avenue side and apartment buildings on the Main Street end.

“My first priority is to do the roofs to stop water from coming in the building, and then we’re probably going to do demo — get anything that can absorb water out — and dry the inside of the building,” he said. “The ideas will come because there’s so much happening in Waterville that there’s a use for the building.”

Pelletier and his wife, Angela, 37, led a tour of the inside of the building recently. One of only two buildings that remain intact from Colby College’s former location downtown, 6 Main Place features a large gymnasium, two pools, a kitchen, a locker room and several other rooms. Ceilings have fallen down, wooden floors have warped, holes have been punched through walls marked with graffiti and several inches of ice glaze some floors and the pools; but the steel trusses, concrete block walls and bricks are solid, according to Uria Pelletier.

“They really did a good job building it,” he said. “It’s all steel and concrete. There’s not a lot of wood in here.”

He pointed, however, to mahogany trim around windows and doors in the former main office, which he plans to refurbish. Climbing the stairs to the second floor, he also noted they are structurally sound.

“I love the stairs because they can all be sandblasted and painted black,” he said.

There’s a large gymnasium on the second floor whose roof in one area is open to the sky, where snow has fallen in a pile.

Pelletier said he is discussing with others uses for the building, including whether to lease part of it, but he would like at least part of it to be oriented toward family activities.

“It’s a really big building,” he said. “I’m listening to ideas.”

He is looking at tax grants, historic credits and other possibilities to help develop the building.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro praised Pelletier’s effort to take a vacant, unused building and make a new use for it, as downtown revitalization efforts continue. Isgro has known Pelletier many years.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the Pelletiers’ plans for the old Boys & Girls Club,” Isgro said. “Having grown up with Uria, I know personally his history here in Waterville, stemming back generations, which is why he understands the significance of this property to our community. His company, Kavestone LLC, is in itself a central Maine success story, and that’s because of Uria’s personal integrity and leadership. This is truly a Waterville project, and I’m looking forward to working with the Pelletiers in whatever capacity I can to ensure its success.”

Uria Pelletier grew up in the city’s South End, and his family moved to Rome when he was 7, he said. He remembers playing at and swimming in the pool at the former Boys Club.

“I’ve wanted the building for a long time,” he said.

Pelletier comes from a long line of people who helped shape the city’s infrastructure. His great-grandfather George Napoleon Pelletier dug Johnson Pond on the Colby campus with a steam shovel, he said.

“My Pépé was Joe Pelletier, a Waterville area businessman and electrician. He had 18 panel vans and 50 employees. He named Delta Ambulance. My father, Joe Pelletier Jr., grew up here. He lives in Greenville now.”

Uria Pelletier and his wife, Angela, of Kavestone LLC, walk past one of the drained pools dampened by snow and rain March 14 at the former Boys & Girls Club in Waterville. Staff photo by David Leaming

ROAD TO SUCCESS

Uria Pelletier started working construction while in high school, first as a mason tender for a Norridgewock company.

“We grinded and pointed the Hinckley Library and replaced the stairs with granite; restored, relined and built chimneys locally,” he said. “I soon after began working as a carpenter helper on commercial projects such as the Lincolnville School and other projects for MBNA back before the recession hit. I was making excellent money and learning. It led me to drop out of high school. The last year I actually completed was ninth grade.”

For years he worked as a carpenter, building houses locally, and in 2010 was asked by a friend to work on a Circle K project in Hooksett, New Hampshire. They installed thin brick veneer, which he had never done before, inside the stores, above and around the coolers, he said.

“Circle K was adding what they called Beer Kaves — walk-in coolers. They asked us to complete another in Belmont. We did. I thought nothing of it. Two months later I received an email from the owner of Tri-State Tile Distributors, who supplied Circle K with their material nationally. He already had installers for Maine, but asked me to start a new program with him in Arizona, the Circle K capital of the world, with more than 1,000 stores in the state. As a young entrepreneur, I was ecstatic.”

Travel trailer in tow, he packed up his family and headed west, taking the southern route through Houston to visit, and lost the rear end in his truck. They were stuck there for a month.

“I was preparing for license exams and trying to name the company when the idea came to me: Kavestone. It’s where we began. Shortly after arriving in Arizona, I drew the Kaveman with his club raised, walking into the cave. A hidden Circle K, a tribute and reminder of where it all began. What a journey. Up and down along the way. We remodeled stores in New England, Ohio, Kentucky, and many in Arizona, including Tombstone.”

He said people who know about his plans for the former Boys & Girls Club building, including business people in the Waterville area who want to help revitalize the city, have contacted him and share his excitement. He plans to move the Kavestone office into the former office near the entrance of the building, he said.

“The area is growing and in need of a residential-commercial general contractor,” he said. “As part of our expansion, we will need to hire and train more employees. My goal is to create jobs that pay well in Waterville. Skilled tradesmen are getting more and more difficult to find.”

He said he plans to use some larger rooms as carpentry shops and others for OSHA safety training, meeting rooms, plan rooms and offices for payroll and management.

“I plan to install new red metal around the top of the exterior of the office area and paint the recessed block entrance. I will also turn the two half-moon windows into one round window, a perfect spot for our Kaveman logo.”

He declined to say how much he paid for the property, but according to city records, the assessed value of the building is $74,400 and the land, $57,100.

The property is zoned Commercial-A, which allows for every use that currently is downtown, including restaurants, retail, professional offices and apartments.

Construction of the building started before Colby moved to Mayflower Hill from downtown, with that move starting in 1930 and ending in 1952. The building was used mostly as a women’s gymnasium. The boys club sold the property in 1999 to a man who owned Dunkin’ Donuts in Waterville at the time, and he later sold it to another entity. The Boys & Girls Club moved to North Street in 1999 and became the Alfond Youth Center, housing both the club and the YMCA. Northern Ventures bought the Main Place building in 2006.

“He’s wanted this building for a long time,” Angela Pelletier said.

The couple said they plan to move back to Waterville from Rome. They are excited to start working on the Main Place renovation.

“It’s my biggest project, it’s my biggest investment, and, hopefully, it’ll be my biggest asset,” Uria Pelletier said.

Other projects Kavestone has worked on include the Belgrade Town Office, the Oakland Police Department and buildings at Husson University and Unity College.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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