WATERVILLE — On a cold, blustery day presaging winter’s arrival, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins got a firsthand tour of the future of downtown Waterville and the partnership between the city and Colby College.

Collins, a Republican, arrived shortly after 2 p.m. Monday at 173 Main St., the site of one of Colby’s major investments in the downtown. Once inside the former Hains building, Collins remarked on just how far the school had come with its efforts to reshape the downtown area.

Colby College President David Greene, looking out the window from the top floor, outlined the school’s biggest project underway: The massive mixed-use building across the street that 200 students will call home next year.

Colby College President David Greene and U.S. Sen. Susan Collins look over building plans Monday in Colby’s multi-purpose building, under construction in downtown Waterville. Staff photo by David Leaming

The new building, at 150 Main St., is scheduled to open next August. The 100,000-square-foot building, a $25.5 million complex that spearheads Colby’s efforts to revitalize the downtown area also will feature retail and community spaces. It is one of a number of multimillion-dollar investments the college has made in downtown Waterville.

Speaking with Greene, Collins said it was exciting to see the new building going up.

“I was so stunned by the size,” Collins told the Morning Sentinel while walking in the new building. “This is a game changer for Waterville.”

Sen. Susan Collins and Colby College President David Greene take in the college’s 173 Main St. building in Waterville, with Colby’s residential multi-purpose building, still under construction, looming behind them during a tour of the downtown properties. Staff photo by David Leaming

Touring the old Hains building, which the college bought and has since renovated, Collins saw that the top floor is already in use. College staff members are working there, and workers from CGI, a software consulting group, are expected to soon follow suit soon.

Collins said it was remarkable to see projects such as the Hains building, which had been vacant for a long time, coming back to life.

Greene said when Colby first took over the vacant building, the college heard from residents who were inspired to see the construction lights on inside. The building had been in the dark for a long time.

“You can take an old space and bring it back to life,” he said as the two looked over at the mixed-use building’s construction site.

He said the construction was also a way to get hundreds of people downtown who otherwise wouldn’t come there, and make Waterville more of a destination for people to want to see.

“I think that’s terrific,” Collins said.

When Collins asked how the building will fit in with Colby’s existing campus, Greene said the college already has begun a shuttle service that will expand once students are living downtown. He said about 100 students live off-campus already, so this new building will only continue to bring college activities downtown.

“This is truly wonderful,” Collins said.

Colby officials gave Collins and her staff a quick tour of the new building, which does not have an official name yet.

She was shown where a classroom space would be on the upper floor, where an apartment would be down the hall from that, and where a community space would be on the first floor.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at: 861-9253 or at:

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Twitter: colinoellis

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