The Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center program recently announced that downtown Hallowell would receive its assistance with consulting and planning efforts to further revitalize the city’s downtown area. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

HALLOWELL — Efforts to further revitalize the city’s downtown area are getting a boost valued at about $15,000 from a statewide program that aims to help with expertise and planning.

The Maine Development Foundation’s Maine Downtown Center program recently announced it had selected the downtown districts in Hallowell and Old Town for the competitive program, which will provide consulting, planning and a report with recommendations.

“What this means is that we can make a cool town better,” said Hallowell Mayor George Lapointe. “Clearly Hallowell has had a lot of improvements in the last couple of years, and we want to continue that. And this will let us do that in a forward-thinking but also structured kind of way and working with people who do this elsewhere can really help us. It points everything forward from my perspective.”

The program saw success in Houlton three years ago when the Maine Downtown Center worked with Ben Levenger, a principal and managing member of Downtown Redevelopment Services, to help them revitalize their downtown.

Levenger recently approached the Maine Downtown Center again and said he would like to help another downtown, so the organization made their affiliate communities aware. Communities had to show why they needed the revitalization and show that they had leadership at the local level that could lead the process.

Anne Ball, program director for the Maine Development Foundation, said Hallowell was chosen because they have exceptional citizen engagement and several organizations and committees dedicated to helping the community.


“Hallowell has lots of public engagement,” she said. “They have lots of committees at the municipality. They have lots of projects going on and lots of plans, and we felt like the consultant would be able to sort all that out and really give direction to all their efforts.”

Ball said groups such as Vision Hallowell, a nonprofit all volunteer organization that works as the city’s Maine Downtown Center affiliate, and the Hallowell Age-Friendly Committee, would work together in these efforts.

Water Street, far right, is seen in downtown Hallowell. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

A small team with the Maine Downtown Center will also be helping the consultant and ensuring they, and the community, have what they need.

“Generally, the consultant is bringing the expertise,” Ball said. “They have planners, they’re going to have an architect with them, so they can really help the community envision what it’s going to look like.”

For Hallowell, they are going to revitalize their downtown business district. Consultants will meet with residents and business owners Sept. 28, 29 and 30. Vision Hallowell has provided links via social media for residents and stakeholders to sign up for meetings, as well as a survey that residents can take to help focus the revitalization efforts.

“A downtown like Hallowell is really such an intact, historic, walkable downtown,” said Ball. “It’s a wonderful place to visit. It’s a great place to open a business.”


She said Levenger will help residents determine which parts of the city’s downtown are most important, and worth protecting, preserving and revitalizing.

“People may identify the downtown waterfront with the Adirondack chairs as the place they care the most about, because they can see the sturgeon jumps,” she said. “Or maybe they say, ‘We really like to walk the hills and look at all those historic houses,’ or it’s the downtown food scene, or the music scene.”

Once the consultant gets a solid idea of which direction to take the revitalization effort, a draft of a report will be completed in October.

The revitalization effort comes at no cost to the community, but Ball said they do want to make sure that towns are able to implement the plan once it is determined by the consultant.

“We’ll work with them to identify funding sources and things like that,” said Ball, “but there’s no cost to them other than wanting to see a commitment to implementation.”

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