WATERVILLE — Downtown revitalization efforts got a boost Tuesday night as the Harold Alfond Foundation and Colby College officials announced that they will infuse $20 million into projects to launch what will become a further investment of “tens of millions of dollars more” in the city’s center.

The Alfond Foundation is pledging a $10 million grant toward the effort, matching Colby’s $10 million investment toward revitalization.

The announcement came Tuesday night at Harvest on the Square, a celebration of community and the arts, held downtown in Castonguay Square, next to City Hall.

Gregory Powell, chairman of the Alfond Foundation, Colby President David Greene, and former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, a Waterville native, spoke to the crowd.

Powell spoke of Waterville philanthropists Harold and Bibby Alfond, for whom the foundation is named, and their love for and support of the city and its institutions, including the Alfond Youth Center, Educare Central Maine, Colby and Thomas colleges, Kennebec Valley Community College, MaineGeneral Medical Center, Waterville Creates! and Maine Children’s Home.

“Over the past year, like so many of you, the foundation has been awed by the outstanding leadership of David Greene and the prominent role Colby College is playing in the revitalization of Main Street, to nurture the conscience and soul of this community,” Powell said in the text of a speech released in advance of the event.

Powell said the foundation will join Colby by matching the college’s $10 million investment, dollar for dollar, creating a $20 million downtown fund.

Shannon Haines, president and chief executive officer of Waterville Creates!, which sponsored the event along with Colby and Waterville Main Street, was emcee of the event.

In his speech, Powell recalled Harold Alfond’s love of sports, arts and teamwork and said Waterville’s future is all about teamwork and leadership on display Tuesday night in the form of officials from Waterville Creates!, Waterville Opera House, the Maine Film Center, Waterville Main Street and Waterville Public Library.

Last year, Greene hosted meetings with city officials, downtown organizations, businesspeople, arts advocates and others to discuss ways to help revitalize downtown, expand art offerings, draw businesses, bring more people to live and work downtown and to help boost economic development.

Colby College bought five vacant and deteriorating buildings downtown with plans to partner with investors to redevelop them; and shortly after that, Bill Mitchell, owner of GHM Insurance Agency downtown and nephew to George Mitchell, followed suit by buying two historic buildings on Common Street. He has been redeveloping them into office space and several weeks ago opened the Proper Pig restaurant in one of those buildings with the owners of The Last Unicorn.

Colby alumnus Justin DePre and his brother Thomas, and another brother, also Thomas, bought two buildings on Main Street and have been renovating them as well.

Meanwhile, Colby is buying the northeast corner of The Concourse from the city for $300,000 and plans to build a residential complex for students, faculty and staff, expected to be open in 2018.

The college also bought the former Hains building at 173 Main St. and plans to redevelop the building into offices.

 


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. 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.