Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

March 28, 2018

Colby College to develop Waterville hotel itself

Photo / Maureen MIlliken Colby College plans to develop a hotel in the vacant lot at 9 Main St. in Waterville, right. The college also owns the buildings agrees the street, left.

WATERVILLE — Colby College will develop and manage the hotel it plans for 9 Main St. itself after terminating an agreement with Portland-based Olympia Cos.

Colby announced earlier this month it was terminating the agreement for the 42-room hotel at the site of the former Levine’s department store downtown.

The college is already self-developing other properties it bought in downtown Waterville through its development arm, Elm City LLC. 

The college bought the site at the intersection of Main, Spring and Front streets in July 2015. The 113-year-old department store building was torn down in October 2016. The original opening date for the hotel was 2018, but the college said last month the project is still in the planning stages.

“It’s a tough site and we want to get it right,” Paul Ureneck, developer of commercial real estate for Elm City LLC, said in February.

Brian Clark, vice president of planning for the college said at the time concept design plans for the hotel are still being worked through.

The site is at the east end of one-way Main Street, with a lane that loops around the bottom for traffic to enter one-way westbound Front Street, which runs behind it. Four-lane Spring Street is at the far east end.

Colby College supports making Main and Front streets two-way, and contributed one-third of the cost of a $102,000 study in 2016. In September, the City Council voted to support the idea, a technicality needed before the city could pursue funding for the project, estimated to cost $4.4 million.

Work would include reworking the heavily traveled five-way intersection of Spring, Water, Main, Front and Bridge streets. Main and Spring are U.S. Route 201, and those supporting the two-way project say it will make Main Street less of a thoroughfare and more of a place people stop to shop, visit restaurants and linger. The streets were made one-way in 1957, a precursor to the urban renewal projects that began a few years later and transformed downtown.

“The new intersection project provides the opportunity to create additional public space that will feature a pedestrian crossing, increasing safety while acting as a welcoming entrance to the city,” the website says.

'Great visibility, high potential'

map / Courtesy Colby College
A rendering from 2016 shows Colby College's development plans in Waterville. No. 7 is where the hotel will go.

The college has also noted the project would be near the site of the Crescent Hotel, which was at 1 Main St., in a building that was torn down when the intersection was reworked during the urban renewal period several decades ago.

“As the former site of the historic Crescent hotel, the gateway location has great visibility and high potential to represent downtown to visitors from afar.”

The college also plans to develop a block of four properties across the street from the site on Main Street, or find a third-party developer for them.

Those buildings, at 14-20 Main St. have been largely vacant for years, and were damaged by fire in 2013. The college bought them in 2015.

Ureneck said they are structurally sound and don’t have to be razed, which had been a possibility when they were bought.

Colby hired Olympia to develop and manage the hotel in January 2017.

Colby terminated the agreement after Olympia president Kevin Mahaney was named in a lawsuit in January that has since been withdrawn by the individual who filed it.

While Colby said it will stick with its decision, the hotel company, in a statement Monday, said company officials hope the college will reconsider.

“Colby never had any legal, or other, basis for terminating our agreements, and we are hopeful Colby will reconsider this decision now that the New York lawsuit has been voluntarily withdrawn with prejudice,” the company said.

In Maine, the company’s properties include the Inn by the Sea in Cape Elizabeth, the Hilton Garden Inn in Portland, the Clarion Hotel in Portland and the Hampton Inn in South Portland. The company also has developed and/or managed properties in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Ohio and Iowa.

The hotel is part of a $50 million investment the college is making in downtown Waterville, which has included buying five buildings and building a 100,000-square-foot retail and dormitory building. 

Read more

Colby College: Downtown Waterville investment 'already paying off'

Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF