WATERVILLE — As ironworkers placed the final structural beam at the Lockwood Hotel on Monday morning, the impact the hotel is expected to have on the community was described as “extraordinary.”

“It is a great time to be investing in Waterville,” Colby College President David A. Greene said during a ceremony at the hotel site. “The city is on the move and that is due to a lot of people who have made such an extraordinary commitment to ensuring that this incredible state has such a rich past and better days still ahead.”

Construction of the hotel is part of an ongoing effort between Colby College and the city to revitalize downtown, bringing Colby’s total investment in the heart of the city to $75 million.

The $26 million hotel will have four stories, 53 rooms, a restaurant and bar that will be open to guests and the public. Entrances to the hotel will be on Front and Main streets. It will also have meeting rooms and a fitness center.

It will be a little less than half the size of Colby’s residential complex on Main Street, the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, Greene said.

Perhaps the more salient numbers at present are these:

  • $12 million of the $26 million is going directly into local businesses, according to Greene.
  • Construction of the hotel has supported 250 construction jobs and, once the building is complete, 60 permanent jobs will be created.

“But we’re not done,” Greene said. “There is more to do here, but this is an extraordinary moment for this city and I am very proud to be a partner. Maine needs a great city and Waterville will be that place. People will invest here, people will live here, people will make their lives here and this downtown will be the beginning of an extraordinary resurgence.”

“As someone who has been working in community development in Waterville for over 15 years, I can’t say that I’ve ever been more optimistic for the future of Waterville and this city than I am right now,” said Shannon Haines, president and CEO of Waterville Creates!. “This moment in time is so exciting, and if this were the only thing we were celebrating in Waterville right now, that would be remarkable.”

The final beam is raised and installed by connectors Fred Nowlin, left, and Ray Lagueux during a ceremony Monday at the Lockwood Hotel construction site in downtown Waterville.

Along with the hotel construction, the city is working to redesign Castonguay Square, the Lockwood mills project is in development, the RiverWalk defines Head of Falls and the Paul J. Schupf Arts Center represents the jewel in this downtown setting, according to those behind the projects.

“We will be able to bring our amazing art and cultural resources into one building in the heart of the downtown, which already attracts thousands of visitors each month cultural opportunities,” Haines said.

“With this project, I think we’ll bring thousands more in, and now those visitors will have an opportunity to stay in a beautiful hotel, where they can dine in our locally owned restaurants, shop in our stores and walk around and just see everything that’s happening here.”

Colby College President David A. Greene, Vice President and Chief of Staff Ruth Jackson and Vice President of Planning Brian Clark watch the final beam being raised and installed during a ceremony Monday at the Lockwood Hotel construction site in downtown Waterville.

Additionally, Haines said once construction of the Schupf center is complete, visitors will be able to catch a movie, see a show at the Opera House and check out art exhibitions.

“This is an opportunity to give back to our community for generations to come and I am so pleased to be a part of it,” Haines said.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro also struck an optimistic tone.

“Over the last five years, we have seen a manufacturing resurgence down on Trafton Road,” Isgro said. “(This is) leading the way and showing not only the state of Maine but the country how to find good-paying, strong middle-class jobs in manufacturing.

“The city has also recently engaged in one of the best and most talented teams we could find to talk to about our crown jewel — the development of Head of Falls. This is just one milestone with many, many more to come.”

Business owner Bill Mitchell said the reinvigoration of downtown will have a broader impact throughout the region.

“I can already feel optimism building,” Mitchell said.

“I told David five years ago that there would be a few skeptics, and there have been,” Mitchell said. “With the exception of a few outliers, everyone that I speak with is squarely behind what (Greene) is doing both off campus and on campus. We are very fortunate to have Colby in Waterville. They have been a great community partner for over 200 years.”

The final beam is raised and installed during a ceremony Monday at the Lockwood Hotel construction site in downtown Waterville.

Greene thanked contributors to the revitalization efforts and the college’s Dare Northward campaign, including the Alfond family and Paul Schupf, whose name will be affixed to the arts center next to Castonguay Square.

Schupf, Greene said, never lived in Waterville and did not attend college here.

“Waterville got in his blood when he came here and spent time here and made a connection to the Colby museum,” Greene said. “(Schupf) has given all of his life’s savings to make sure that this arts center in Waterville will come to life. It’s an extraordinary story and emblematic of the way that people will sacrifice for the city because they believe in it and they believe in the people that are here.”

Last week, Colby College announced its Dare Northward campaign, launched three years ago, had reached $500 million of the $750 million target, which came from more than 20,000 donors.

“The good news is that we’ve got a great momentum,” Greene said. “We have so many more things to do, and one of our primary goals is making sure that Colby is truly accessible to talented students, no matter their financial backgrounds. Raising money for financial aid is absolutely critical for us.”

Greene said all projects are on schedule and that revitalizing Waterville will help keep Maine a destination.

“Being able to have people move to Maine and make a life here is really important,” Greene said. “Every great city has a great downtown, and that has been true to Waterville in its past.”

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