WATERVILLE — A family that has owned and managed several housing units in Waterville for more than 35 years is looking to build 36 townhouse-style apartments in 14 buildings off College Avenue.

Arthur Turmelle, his wife, Connie, their daughter, Joie, and her husband, Mike Curran, hope to begin the project this fall at the site of the former John Martin’s Manor restaurant at 54 College Ave., after the building has been razed. The family’s business is called Arcon Realty.

Arthur Turmelle and Mike Curran presented preliminary plans Tuesday night to the Planning Board, saying the development would be called Manor Gardens. It would be built on land on which the former restaurant building still stands, and property at 13 Maple St., now a parking lot that was used by the restaurant’s customers.

The lead architect is Justin Morgan, owner of Maine Design + Build of Augusta.

“Our mission is, frankly, to continue a legacy of providing safe, accessible housing with a community atmosphere that Art has really started, and we just look to continue that legacy,” Curran said.

The former John Martin’s Manor restaurant at 54 College Ave. in Waterville. City officials are reviewing a proposal that would raze the building to make way for 36 townhouse-style apartments. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

The 14 buildings would be developed in two phases, with four buildings done first at 54 College Ave. and a cluster of five buildings on a lot next to it, with the buildings to have 23 residential units, according to Curran.

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Phase two would include an L-shaped configuration with 13 units in five buildings on Maple Street.

The units would be one- and two-bedroom apartments, with the one-bedroom units to be 600 square feet and the two-bedroom units 900 or 1,000 square feet, according to Curran.

They would be energy efficient with “green” heating and cooling systems, and the complex would have patios, community gardens and gathering areas with benches.

“We’re very mindful not to go over three stories,” Curran said. “That is really as high as it gets in the neighborhood.”

The building setback is 20 feet, so the developers are asking for 54 College Ave. and 13 Maple St. to be rezoned to a contract zone to decrease the setback to 10 feet.

The Maple Street property is in the Residential-C zone and the College Avenue piece in the Commercial-C zone. The City Council on Tuesday may refer the rezoning request to the Planning Board for a public hearing and recommendation, and the council would make the final decision.

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The city in 2015 presented members of the Turmelle family with the Spirit of America Award for their work to improve the city’s North End, where they owned about 50 buildings near the building that formerly housed John Martin’s Manor.

The 30,000-square-foot building was closed in 2007 after a 30-year run. It had been owned by Peter Martin, who grew up in the business with his father, John, who opened it in 1977. Peter Martin sold the restaurant to Autote Enterprises of New Haven, Connecticut, which closed the restaurant because it was losing money.

The building continued as a banquet center that catered special functions, and in 2010 Sportech bought Autotote. An off-track betting parlor in the basement continued to operate until 2012, when it moved to Jefferson Street.

The building changed hands after that, and in 2015 was leased to a business that tried to operate a steak house in the basement and a banquet center and consignment shop on the main floor, but the business closed within two years.

Planning Board Chairwoman Samantha Burdick told Turmelle and Curran on Tuesday that everyone knows there is a need for housing in Waterville.

“Everything looks really great,” she said of their plans.

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Board members Bruce White and David Johnson also said they liked what they saw in the proposal.

“I really love everything that I’m seeing with the project,” Johnson said. “It’s definitely needed.”

City Planner Ann Beverage said Wednesday that Arcon Realty also owns land to the south of 54 College Ave. that has apartments on it, but part of the property is vacated land that would be split off and added to the Manor property to be used for parking.

The developers also bought a piece of 5 Ash St., to the north of the former Manor, which was used for parking and would be part of a third phase, according to Beverage.

In other matters at Tuesday’s meeting, the Planning Board voted 6-0 to authorize the code enforcement officer to allow site work to start on the east side of Johnson Pond at Colby College where four modular dormitory buildings will be placed for student and faculty, to be called The Pond Houses.

The board is expected Tuesday to consider final plans for the project.

Beverage said the 10,000-square-foot buildings are being manufactured in South Paris, and three would be delivered to the site to be occupied in the fall and the fourth would be completed in December.

Each building would house 50 freshmen and sophomores and have apartments for faculty members. Foundation construction is expected to begin in March.

The project allows Colby to meet space needs for increased enrollment on campus, according to Mina Amundsen, the college’s assistant vice president for facilities and campus planning.

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