The owners of two vacant buildings at 155 and 165 Main St. in downtown Waterville, seen in February, presented plans this week to the Planning Board that include adding nearly two-dozen studio apartments. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

WATERVILLE — The Planning Board on Tuesday got a closer look at a proposal to build affordable apartments in two buildings downtown that have been vacant for several years.

Justin DePre of Kennebec Realty Partners LLC, which owns 155 and 165 Main St., said the hope is to finalize the financing for the project in the fall and start building at the end of this year or early in 2024.

The buildings, known as the Eaton & Edith Blocks, formerly housed Atkins Printing Service, and 155 Main was home to Berry’s Stationers for several years before that business moved to Oakland.

DePre said 165 Main has three floors and 155 Main has two. He and his family are planning for 15 studio apartments on the upper floors of 165 and the first floor would be retail. Six studio units also are planned for the second floor of 155. The units would be rented, DePre said.

DePre’s father, Thomas DePre Sr., and brother, Thomas DePre Jr., also are part of Kennebec Realty Partners. Thomas DePre Jr. is a member of the Planning Board and recused himself from Tuesday’s discussion. Board Chairwoman Samantha Burdick also recused herself, saying she has had discussions with the developers about the project.

Justin DePre presented sketches of the buildings and proposed apartments.


“They look beautiful,” board member Hilary Koch said. “I’m excited about them.”

In response to questions from Koch, DePre said there would be a laundry facility for the buildings and he has preliminary approval from both the local water and sewer districts for the plans. Asked about parking, he said his family owns the parking lot in back of the building and they are working on a parking plan now.

“There’s more than enough parking for these units in our lot,” he said.

City Council Chairwoman Rebecca Green attended the meeting and asked if there would be an elevator to serve the units. DePre said there would be.

“It looks great and I’m excited to have some more housing downtown,” Green said.

She asked if the buildings will be connected. DePre said that, because they are at different levels, it would be a challenge to connect them, but one elevator could serve both buildings. The elevator would have doors at both ends, one to serve 165 and one to serve 155.


DePre said he should have preliminary and final plans to present to the board at its next meeting on July 25.

The buildings are across the street from the Colby College-owned Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons at 150 Main St., which houses Colby students and staff members on upper floors and Camden National Bank on the first floor.

The City Council voted in May 2019 to amend the existing downtown tax increment financing district to remove 155 and 165 Main St. and allow a new district to be developed for them. That TIF district was developed in 2020.

In other matters Tuesday, the board heard more details from John Jabar about a proposal to build a five-story building at 15 Washington St. to house 40 condominiums. He is requesting the council rezone the property from Commercial-C to Commercial-A to allow for the development.

The City Council voted 6-0 on May 23 to refer the matter to the Planning Board for hearing and recommendation.

The development would be adjacent to the building that houses AAA at 13 Washington St., a few hundred yards from the intersection with Kennedy Memorial Drive.


The Planning Board can make recommendations to the council on proposed zoning changes but the council has the final decision.

Jabar said Tuesday that he is planning for four three-bedroom and four two-bedroom units on each floor.

“The land will have the ability to have two buildings,” he said. “We’ll start with one and if it goes well, we’ll build the second.”

He is planning for an underground garage and an elevator, he said. The board voted to postpone until July 25 a decision about what to recommend to the council on the rezoning request.

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