Two buildings that would be part of Head of Falls Village planned for 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 is to include more than 60 housing units. The city’s Planning Board approved the project this week. Rendering courtesy of Todd Alexander

WATERVILLE — Work is expected to begin early next year on a $30 million to $35 million project that would reportedly create 63 housing units at two buildings off Temple and Front streets in downtown Waterville, according to the developer.

Todd Alexander said Monday the Head of Falls Village project is to be done in phases, with the first phase to include demolishing four buildings at the site and removing contaminated soil.

“I think folks might start seeing activity on the site as early as February or maybe early March,” Alexander, a vice president and partner at Portland-based Renewal Housing Associates LLC, said.

He is developing the project with Northland Enterprises Inc., a real estate development and management company also based in Portland.

“I think if all of the funding were to fall into place, we would be constructing the first building on the site as early as this time next year, early fall into winter, but it could be delayed if all funding is not in place.”

City Council Chairwoman Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, who also chairs the city’s Housing Committee, said Monday the project is exciting on a number of levels.


“It’s critical to provide relief from our housing shortage over the next few years, and it’s also beautifully designed,” Green said. “It will transform the streetscape on Front Street, between Temple and Appleton (streets), creating a vibrant gateway to Head of Falls. I hope we see more projects like this in the coming years.”

The Waterville Planning Board approved a site plan for the project in late July, and the developers bought the properties, totaling about 1.7 acres, in early November.

The buildings are vacant now, but formerly housed Universal Bread, Damon’s Beverage & Redemption, the former Bob-In restaurant and lounge, Creative Sounds & Video Systems and a former office building known as the Heath House at 60 Front St. that abuts Appleton Street.

Alexander said the goal is for Jeff Damon to have a boutique market on the first floor of the Front Street building that would offer prepared foods, beer and liquor.

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

The 45 units off Front Street would be offered at the market rate.


The cost to rent workforce housing depends on income. A one-bedroom unit would rent for about $1,285 a month and a two-bedroom unit about $1,445.

The 49,400-square-foot building facing Front Street would have about 6,600 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 45 apartments on upper floors. About 90 on-site parking spaces are planned to the west of the buildings. A two-way drive between the buildings would connect Temple and Appleton streets and double as a space for cultural events, farm markets, pop-up cafes and the like, and a place to socialize.

Buildings, including the former Temple Street Tavern, right, are to be razed to make way for buildings for housing and commercial use in downtown Waterville. This view from the intersection with Front Street was photographed Jan. 25, 2023. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Both private and public money is needed for the project. The developers applied for funding under the Renewal Affordable Housing Program through Maine Housing Authority, which is a new program intended to provide funding for workforce and affordable housing. The developers received an initial award and now are going through an underwriting process. They anticipate funding will come for the 18 units in the Temple Street building, according to Alexander.

The project received a grant of almost $200,000 from the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development’s Community Development Block Grant program to help with demolition and remediation, and the developers have been working with Kennebec Valley Council of Governments for brownfields remediation funding.

They also plan to seek tax increment financing from the city to help pay for public infrastructure improvements, Alexander said. Other funding would include traditional private sector money, commercial lending program funds or equity investments, according to Alexander.

Josh Benthien, CEO of Northland Enterprises, focuses on the commercial, office and retail aspect of the project, and Alexander focuses on the housing part. The project architect is Jesse Thompson from Kaplan Architects, based in Portland; the landscape architect is Nick Aceto of Aceto Landscape Architecture + Urban Design; and the civil engineer is Adrienne Fine from Terradyn Consultants.


Alexander said the development is intended to complement the $40 million housing project underway at the Lockwood Mill at 6 Water St., which is to include 65 affordable apartments and has received funding from MaineHousing for units whose rental cost is based on 60% or less than the area median income.

Head of Falls Village would serve more of a middle market or slightly higher income level than households traditionally served under the low-income tax credit program, according to Alexander.

“I think it’s really important within a downtown to hit as many income levels as you possibly can,” he said. “If we can pull this off in coordination with the Lockwood Mill, it will be nice for the downtown to be able to serve those different markets.”

Alexander said the building construction timeline depends on funding.

The second phase, after demolition and soil remediation, would include infrastructure improvements, including water, stormwater and sanitary systems and utilities to connect to both buildings.

The third phase would be construction of the building facing Temple Street, and the fourth phase would see construction of the building facing Front Street. Depending on financing, the buildings could be constructed at the same time.


The corner of Temple and Front streets in downtown Waterville is seen June 30 in the lower right corner. Morning Sentinel file

Alexander said it is important with projects such as this, which are difficult to finance and cannot be financed through conventional methods, to be patient to ensure the sources of funding that are secured are consistent with the project goals and visions.

Alexander said the project is big for Waterville and, although a private undertaking, includes public funding, so private-public collaboration is necessary. Add to that the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, high interest rates and an inflationary environment, he said, and such projects can take a lot of time.

“It’s really, really important that we get this right,” he said.

Community support for the project has been strong, Alexander said, and it was important to not only have the support, but to develop it in a community that was already focused on downtown revitalization and housing.

Alexander grew up in Waterville and graduated from Waterville Senior High School in 1988 and Colby College in 1992. His professional background is in developing and financing housing projects in underserved communities through public-private partnerships.

He said he has enjoyed reconnecting with people and following revitalization efforts and all the investments by the city and Colby College.

“It’s been great to see,” he said, “and then getting involved with it has been very rewarding.”

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