Two buildings that would comprise Head of Falls Village are shown in this rendering, looking north from City Hall at Temple Street in the foreground and Front Street obscured to the right. The multiuse project would include more than 60 apartments. Rendering courtesy of Todd Alexander

WATERVILLE — Planning Board members commented favorably Tuesday on a $30 million to $35 million proposal to build 63 housing units at two buildings along Temple and Front streets in downtown Waterville, saying it would provide much-needed housing.

Head of Falls Village, which would cover 1.7 acres, is proposed by Todd Alexander, vice president and partner at Portland-based Renewal Housing Associates LLC, which focuses on affordable, mixed-income and workforce housing. He is developing the project with Northland Enterprises Inc., a real estate development and management company also based in Portland.

The developers have the properties under contract and plan to raze four buildings that house Universal Bread, Damon’s Beverage & Redemption, the former Bob-In tavern, Creative Sounds & Video Systems and a former office building known as the Heath House at 60 Front St. that abuts Appleton Street to the north.

A proposed 33,800-square-foot building facing Temple Street would have about 15,000 square feet of office space on the first and second floors, and 18 rental apartments on upper floors. The so-called “workforce” apartments, funded partially by money from MaineHousing, would be regulated under a program that limits occupancy to residents with household incomes at or below 80% of the area median income level for Kennebec County.

A 49,400-square-foot building on Front Street would have about 6,600 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 45 apartments on upper floors. Alexander is planning for 91 on-site parking spaces to the west of the buildings. He said there is space at the corner of Appleton and Front streets for two more buildings in the future.

The current plan calls for a two-way drive between the two buildings that connects Temple and Appleton streets. The area would have trees and landscaping.


Alexander told the board Tuesday an important goal is to have the development connect with and be a continuation of Main Street, with retail and commercial on the first floors, which he said would be consistent with traditional downtown patterns.

The development, he said, is “first and foremost a housing project,” and he wanted to provide as many units as possible, including a level of affordable housing. After talking with people, looking at the market and considering other housing projects being developed locally, it was decided that workforce housing, or the “middle market type of housing,” was needed at Head of Falls Village, he said.

Alexander described the shared two-way drive between the two buildings as the “magic behind the entire design process.” He said he wanted to create a place that becomes part of downtown and is inviting — a place where people want to go and hang out. The space can be used for cultural events, farmers’ markets and pop-up cafes, and be a place where people can get off the busy streets, he said.

Board member Hilary Koch said she was excited about the shared two-way drive and outdoor space, which reminded her of European pedestrian zones.

“I really like it,” she said. “I think it’s nice, so well done. I think it’s really appealing.”

Board Chairwoman Samantha Burdick said Waterville is starting to lose some of its historic character and recommended the developers try to include in the project historic elements of the area.


Board member Bruce White asked when Alexander expects to come back to the board for a vote.

“I think … probably sometime later this spring or early summer,” Alexander said.

White offered praise for the project, saying there is much need for such housing. He asked about the rent for the workforce housing. Alexander said the formula is complicated and depends on income, but a one-bedroom unit would rent for about $1,285 and a two-bedroom unit about $1,445.

“It’ll be a struggle for some people, still, but thank you for doing your best, so it’s not all market rate at least,” White said.

Burdick agreed.

“I like the idea of having some mix,” she said. “It’s not all workforce, it’s not all market rate. I think there’s a benefit to that. I like that it’s a mixed use. It gives it more of a community feel, I think.”

Members of the public asked many questions about parking, with Alexander saying it was important to him and others that the parking was done right. He added that there will be tenants who will not have vehicles. Some people prefer to walk, ride a bicycle or take public transportation as part of living in a downtown environment, and not have the expense of owning a vehicle, he said.

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