WATERVILLE — Downtown revitalization efforts are progressing with the planned wrap-up Monday of the former Levine’s store demolition on Main Street and the scheduling of a public meeting Dec. 5 to release results of a traffic study.

The razing of Levine’s by Costello Dismantling Co., of West Wareham, Mass., started Oct. 4 and the building itself has been completely removed and a large hole remains where the foundation was.

Kate Carlisle, director of communications at Colby College, said that the work will be completed Monday and the road will be re-opened, allowing traffic once again to access Front Street from Main at the southernmost end of downtown.

“We’re pleased at how smoothly the work has gone at 9 Main St. and we’re looking forward to continued progress at redeveloping that property,” Carlisle said.

Colby purchased five vacant and deteriorating buildings downtown as part of revitalization efforts with plans to either tear them down or partner with investors to redevelop them. Levine’s, which was deemed not structurally sound, will be replaced with a 42-room, high-quality, full-service boutique hotel which will include a restaurant. Construction is scheduled to start next year.

Waterville Mayor Nick Isgro said he’s pleased “with how smoothly and professionally the demolition has gone.”

“The entire team at Colby has been very eager and enthusiastic about making progression on the revitalization efforts,” Isgro said.

The former Elks building on Appleton Street, another of Colby’s purchases, was torn down in September by Costello and the lot it sat on has become a parking lot. Colby also bought the former Waterville Hardware store across Main Street from the former Levine’s and that is slated for demolition at a date to be determined.

“Regarding the Waterville Hardware block, we are still considering redevelopment options for that property, with no word yet on when it will be demolished,” Carlisle said.

Colby also bought the former Hains building at the corner of Appleton and Main streets and renovations are expected to start soon on that building. Collaborative Consulting, a technology firm now in a temporary space at the Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street, will move into the upper floors of the Hains building when work there is completed.

Colby also plans to start building a residential complex next year for students and staff on the northeast corner of The Concourse. The students and staff will be part of a special Colby curriculum designed around community service and involvement. The ground floor of the complex will house retail business.

All of the downtown revitalization efforts are expected to bring more people downtown to live, work, shop, eat, recreate — and boost the economy.

Meanwhile, City Manager Michael Roy said that a public meeting to release the results of a downtown traffic study will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5 in the council chambers at The Center at 93 Main St.

The study was launched in February to look at ways to help improve traffic flow and safety as part of downtown revitalization efforts, and sought to ensure there is adequate and convenient parking downtown.

The study explored whether returning two-way traffic to Main Street would be beneficial. Gorrill Palmer, an engineering firm from South Portland that is working on the study, sent a study proposal and concept ideas in September to the state Department of Transportation for review.

Main Street traffic was changed from two-way to one-way in 1957, according to Waterville historian Bill Arnold. At the time, Arnold was chairman of the merchants division of the local chamber of commerce, which was made up primarily of downtown merchants. According to Arnold, many merchants at the time were opposed to making the street one-way but the City Council voted to make it one-way.

The idea then was to move traffic as quickly as possible through downtown — the opposite of current thinking, that reverting to two-way traffic on Main Street would slow traffic down and make downtown safer and more user-friendly for motorists, pedestrians and shoppers.

Gorrill Palmer, hired by the city to conduct the traffic study, was paid $102,000, a sum that was shared equally between the city, Colby and the DOT. Gorrill Palmer worked with BFJ Planning of New York City and Mitchell Associates of Portland on the study.

“I’ll be very interested to see the results of the traffic study,” Isgro said, saying the community should come together to make a decision “about what direction we want to go in and start the strategic plan for that.”

Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

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