WATERVILLE — Construction of a $26 million hotel downtown is on schedule, with the foundation expected to be completed this week.

“The plan is for steel to start arriving next week to be hung on the building, so that’s going to go up fast,” said Paul Ureneck, director of commercial real estate for Elm City LLC. Elm City is an affiliate of Colby College, which is building the hotel.

The 53-room Lockwood Hotel, named for the former Lockwood textile mill complex to its south on Water Street, will have four stories, a restaurant and bar that will welcome hotel guests, as well as the public. The hotel will have entrances on both Main and Front streets and include meeting rooms and a fitness center for guests.

Colby officials say the hotel is expected to open in the fall of next year.

Brian Clark, vice president of planning at Colby College, pictured here June 3, said on Wednesday that the Lockwood Hotel, is shifting into visible development as it approaches a milestone as the first downtown hotel in decades, Morning Sentinel file photo

“All in all I’m very pleased with the way things are going,” Ureneck said Wednesday. “We’re working in a very tight construction labor market. We are competing against many other projects happening around the state for skilled labor, so we are fortunate to have built relationships with contractors and subcontractors that have assisted us in bringing crews on board that are both experienced and have the horsepower to meet the schedule.”

Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president of planning, said Wednesday that the hotel is really starting to take shape.

“Construction of the Lockwood Hotel is shifting into an exciting and highly visible phase as the steel begins to rise,” Clark said. “It marks an important milestone as we near the opening of the first downtown hotel in decades and begin to fully realize the economic benefits it will bring to the City of Waterville in terms of taxes, job creation, and an increased number of visitors spending the night in Waterville and supporting local businesses here.”

At the site Wednesday, crews from Tri-Stone Industries, of Richmond, were working on the building’s foundation.

“The concrete walls you see are essentially the foundation,” Ureneck said.

The taller walls on the south side of the site are where the basement of the hotel will be and the shorter walls to the north are where there will be no basement, he said.

Ureneck said that a crane is expected to be brought on site in the next couple of days. Next week, Summit Natural Gas will bring a gas line onto the site.

Front Street, from Spring to Temple Street, will close at midnight Thursday for sewer line work, according to Ureneck. One lane of Front Street will open for traffic by 6 a.m. Friday, but crews may still be working in the lane closest to the project.

Ureneck said the plan is to have all the steel up and the concrete plank down for the floors so that workers can start enclosing the building by Thanksgiving, which is Nov. 28, and have the building fully enclosed in January.

Construction of the hotel is part of the effort by both Colby and the city to revitalize the downtown. Colby’s investment in the heart of the city is more than $75 million. The total investment in downtown, including Colby projects as well as present and planned projects funded by others, is expected to be $100 million, according to officials.

The hotel will be a little less than half the size of Colby’s $25.5 million mixed-use residential complex father north on Main Street known as the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons.

The construction manager for the hotel project is Landry/French Construction Co. and the designer is Baskervill. The hotel, as well as the restaurant and bar, will be managed by Charlestowne Hotels. Landry/French also built the Alfond Commons.

The hotel’s restaurant will be named “Front & Main.” The full service eatery will offer a diverse menu with twists on classic offerings that emphasize produce from Maine farmers and harvesters, according to Colby officials. The restaurant will have entrances from both inside and outside the hotel, and it will feature glass walls on the ground level and a patio for seasonal use on the north side.

The hotel is being built on the site of the former Crescent Hotel, previously the site of the Lockwood House, which opened in 1880, and its patrons were overnight passengers of the narrow gauge railway. The building owner was Reuben W. Dunn, an 1868 Colby graduate who became a Colby trustee.

Later, that spot was the site of Levine’s clothing store, and Camden National Bank was in the building to the north of Levine’s. Camden moved to the Alfond Commons building at 150 Main.

Colby also is working with Waterville Creates! to raise some $18 to $20 million to develop a center for art and film in The Center on Main Street next to Castonguay Square. It will be named the Paul J. Schupf Art Center, for the lead donor to the project.

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