After years on the market, the Olde Federal Building at the corner of Water and Winthrop streets in Augusta may change hands and be redeveloped into luxury apartments. A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for Nov. 15. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The Olde Federal Building, a downtown Augusta architectural icon, could be redeveloped by new owners under a proposal that goes before the city’s Planning Board on Tuesday.

The Goldman Group, a real estate investment, redevelopment and management group based in Boston, has submitted a conditional use application to the Augusta Planning Board for the adaptive reuse of the landmark building into luxury apartments with a wide range of amenities and retail space.

The building at 295 Water St., currently listed for sale for $2.65 million, has not changed hands. The Goldman Group and seller Vickery-Downing Associates, with an office in Yarmouth, both declined comment for this story.

“This speaks to the arrival of regional investment,” Keith Luke, economic development director for the city of Augusta, said. “We’re seeing investors radiate out from markets like Boston and central Massachusetts and Portsmouth (New Hampshire) and Portland. These are exactly the type of properties that represent a return opportunity for investment that they can’t find in other places right now, because they’ve all been renovated.”

The building, made from gray granite and built over 3 1/2 years, is considered one of the state’s finest surviving examples of Romanesque Revival architecture that was popularized by H.H. Richardson, a prominent late 19th century architect based in the Boston area.

It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.


“There’s no other building in central Maine that looks like it,” Michael Hall, executive director of the Augusta Downtown Alliance said. “Culturally and architecturally, it’s very significant.”

The building first served as a federal office building and courthouse and still houses a U.S. Postal Service office. It was sold by the federal government to a private owner after the new, larger Edmund S. Muskie Federal Building on Western Avenue was built in 1966.

While it’s mostly empty now, it leases office space to a number of nonprofit groups, including the Augusta Downtown Alliance and has some retail space.

As outlined in the application, the developers are proposing to convert about half of the building into 30 luxury residential units — three studios, 16 one-bedrooms, nine two-bedrooms, and two three-bedrooms. The existing U.S. Postal Service office would remain and two other spaces would be set aside for a small grocery story and a second street-front retail space.

Developers hope to renovate the Olde Federal Building in downtown Augusta into a luxury mixed-use complex, with 30 residential units. Here, Scott Bernier climbs the staircase in 2006. The current U.S. Postal Service office would remain, and a small grocery and second retail space would be added. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file

Developers also plan to include a fitness center, a grand lobby, mail room, storage lockers, bicycle storage, a pet grooming station and a 3,450-square-foot rooftop deck and bar overlooking the Kennebec River with a pergola, hot tub and firepit that will be available to tenants during the day and available to be rented out by a retail tenant in the evening.

The application states that developers intend to preserve the historic character and the living units are expected to be renovated to modern, upscale standards.


Because the building’s lower floors are in the flood plain, they would not be converted into living space.

These views from the interior of Augusta’s Olde Federal Building at 295 Water St. were included in a city conditional use application. The proposal calls for parts of the building, with 43,710 square feet of total indoor space, to be renovated into a luxury mixed-use complex with 30 residential units and street-level retail space. Photos courtesy of The Goldman Group LLC

Hall said redeveloping the building would be significant in several ways, including increasing the residential populations of the historic downtown that can support the businesses that have moved in to street-level retail spaces.

“The population down here is basically starving for a place they could go and pick up groceries,” he said. “Anything we can get that adds to the neighborhood atmosphere is a great thing.”

Currently, the number of renovated downtown apartments is about 80; this project would bring that number to more than 100.

Luke said the vacancy rate in the city’s historic downtown is zero, so demand for apartments like those proposed remains strong.

The Goldman Group has experience in renovating buildings, Luke said. Most have been in Massachusetts, with additional projects in Rhode Island and Florida. This would be the first Maine project for the vertically integrated real estate company.

The Planning Board meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Lecture Hall at City Center Plaza, 16 Cony St. The meeting will also be livestreamed and links to recordings are available on the Planning Board’s website

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: