Two buildings that will be part of Head of Falls Village in downtown Waterville 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 will include more than 60 housing units. The city’s Planning Board this week approved the project. Rendering courtesy of Todd Alexander

WATERVILLE — Developers may now proceed with creating 84 housing units downtown since the Planning Board this week approved preliminary and final plans for the projects.

Renewal Housing Associates LLC plans to build Head of Falls Village, a complex of 63 apartments and commercial space along Temple and Front streets. The $30 million to $35 million proposal would include two buildings along Temple and Front streets, on 1.7 acres, with space for more development in the future.

Todd Alexander, vice president and partner at Portland-based Renewal Housing Associates, which focuses on affordable, mixed-income and workforce housing, is developing the project with Northland Enterprises Inc., a real estate development and management company also based in Portland.

Alexander told the board Tuesday that he hopes to acquire properties along Front, Temple and Appleton streets from two owners later this year, clean them up and develop the site during next year’s building season.

They 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.

The two buildings will include one- and two-bedroom units. A 34,000-square-foot building facing Temple Street would have office and commercial space on the first floor and workforce housing on upper floors; and the other five-story mixed-use building facing Front Street would have retail and commercial on the first floor and four stories of market rate apartments above it.


Jesse Thompson, of Kaplan Thompson Architects of Portland, said the buildings will have elevators and sprinkler systems, lighting and landscaping.

“These are modern, high-quality, safe buildings,” he said. “Building good buildings downtown is our goal here.”

A shared drive-thru and pedestrian plaza from Temple to Appleton Street would be between the buildings, open to the public and landscaped, according to Alexander. Ninety-one parking spaces are planned on the west side of the site.

Planning Board member Bruce White asked Alexander about financing for the project.

Alexander said the project is broken into phases and financing for the first phase is in place. The building facing Temple Street will be partially funded by MaineHousing, as part of a Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program, for which the developer has preliminary approval, he said. The program limits occupancy to residents with household incomes at or below 80% of the area median income level for Kennebec County. The building facing Front Street will be privately funded, through partners, according to Alexander.

Board member Hilary Koch asked about the shared drive-thru, pedestrian plaza, which Alexander said will be open to both vehicles and people.


“I know we’re not talking about the buildings, but I think the design is gorgeous,” Koch said.

Board Chairwoman Samantha Burdick noted that a letter from St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church which is adjacent to the site on Front Street, asked if old trees along the Appleton Street side of the property near Front Street could be maintained and not removed as part of the plan.

“I think we’re open to considering that, but it’s hard to know,” Alexander said.

In a separate matter, the board voted to approve plans by Kennebec Realty Partners LLC, which owns 155 and 165 Main St. and wants to develop 21 apartments in the buildings. Justin DePre told the Planning Board that the units would be workforce housing.

Waterville resident Paul Ureneck said he was happy to see the DePre family developing the properties and said he supports the project. The buildings’ siding was removed several years ago and the windows blocked off, according to Ureneck, who is director of commercial real estate for Colby College and supervises Colby construction downtown.

The owners of two vacant buildings at 155 and 165 Main St. in downtown Waterville, seen in February, will move forward with plans to add nearly two-dozen studio apartments now that the city’s Planning Board has approved the project. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel file

He asked DePre whether he plans to take advantage of historic tax credits to help finance the project, as the city had placed the buildings in a tax increment financing district. DePre said he does plan to take advantage of the tax credits. Ureneck also asked him if it is possible to install windows in the building soon, as those facing downtown are blocked.


“It would be wonderful if we could just see windows in the building other than concrete blocks,” he said.

DePre said he wants to do that as soon as possible but noted that installing windows requires approval from the National Park Service, which administers historic preservation tax credits, and that is why there has been a delay. He didn’t want to install windows and then have to remove them, he said.

He and his family anticipate putting the finance package together for the project starting early in 2024, and ideally have the project completed at the end of next year, he said.

The buildings, known as the Eaton & Edith Blocks, are across from the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons, a Colby building that houses students and staff and has commercial uses on the ground floor.

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 voting Tuesday, as did Burdick who said in June that she had had discussions with the developers about the project.

Related Headlines

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.