WATERVILLE — Colby College’s planned hotel and restaurant in the heart of downtown will start construction this year and will be designed and managed by what officials say are among the top firms in the country.

The building will be designed by Baskervill, one of the oldest continuously operating architectural firms in the country, and the hotel and restaurant will be managed by Charlestowne Hotels, a company regarded as one of the top hotel management companies in the country, Colby officials said Thursday.

The 50-room, four-story hotel, with a restaurant and bar that will include seasonal outdoor dining on its north side, will be built at 33 and 9 Main St., which formerly housed Camden National Bank and the former Levine’s clothing store, respectively. Demolition of those old buildings finished about a month ago and Colby plans to open the hotel next year.

The hotel design will incorporate local materials in a contemporary building that will bring life to the southern end of Main Street, according to Colby.

“This hotel is a critical component to our shared efforts with the city to bring new life to Waterville’s core, which are already resulting in significant new investment in the city, hundreds of new jobs, an increased population, and rising property values for homeowners,” Colby President David A. Greene said in a statement. “Visitors to Main Street will shop in local establishments, dine in nearby restaurants, and enjoy the many attractions in the area, including the arts and outdoor activities. This renewed vitality will make the city an even better place to live, work, and recreate.”

Brian Clark, Colby’s vice president of planning, said Baskervill and Charlestowne have been exceptional partners in the project.

“Through their expertise and creativity in hotel design and management, they have provided us with plans for a hotel that will become a destination for people from afar looking to take advantage of all that the region offers and for Waterville-area residents seeking a different kind of dining experience,” Clark said.

He said in a phone interview that the restaurant will be on the ground floor, along with the main lobby and event spaces, and guest rooms will be on the top three floors.

“We are planning for a main entrance on Main Street as well as on the Front Street side of the building – sort of a dual-entry lobby,” Clark said.

The majority of parking spaces will be located in a city-owned lot across Front Street from the hotel where Colby leases 42 spaces, and the adjacent space north of that lot where Camden Bank had a drive-thru ATM. Colby acquired that space when it bought the Camden property.

Clark said he is eager to get the project started.

“Both Baskervill and Charlestowne are top-notch,” he said. “What they bring in terms of portfolio, experience and the services that they are going to offer – we’ve got a really great team in Waterville. It’s exciting.”

Waterville City Manager Michael Roy said in a phone interview that having a hotel on that spot will bring back fond memories of the city’s past, when the downtown had a number of hotels.

“Placement of a hotel on that property will remind a lot of people in this area of the hotel accommodations that downtown Waterville once had,” Roy said. “I would invite people into City Hall to look at the large, aerial photo of the Crescent Hotel, which once stood on that same location. I’m sure, based on what we’ve seen from other work that Colby has done at 173 Main St. and the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons building, that this will be a very high-quality building.”

Kimberly N. Lindlof, president and chief executive officer of the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, echoed Roy’s sentiments.

“The heartbeat of any city is the energy that it gets from having people living and recreating in its downtown,” said Lindlof, who also is executive director of Central Maine Growth Council. “Having this hotel constructed on the south end of Main Street, where a hotel used to exist, will bring additional vitality to the heart of Waterville. We look forward to welcoming business professionals and tourists alike and to show them all that the region has to offer.”

Colby is investing millions of dollars into the city as part of revitalization efforts. Last year it opened the $25 million mixed-use residential complex at 150 Main St., which houses some 200 students, staff and faculty on upper floors and Camden National Bank and a space for community groups to use on the first floor. Space is also available for retail on the first floor.

Across Main Street, Colby renovated a historic former bank building at 173 Main to the tune of $5 million. It houses offices, including the technology company CGI Group, on upper floors, and Portland Pie Co. on the first floor. Colby is partnering with Waterville Creates! to transform The Center at 93 Main St. into a center for art and film. The city also will use a $7.3 million federal grant to help improve streets and sidewalks and other amenities downtown to make it safer and more pedestrian-friendly.

The revitalization process started after Greene led meetings four years ago that included city officials, business people and downtown arts advocates who discussed what the city needed to become more vibrant, active and successful.

It was important, they said, for more people to be living and working downtown, and for vacant, dilapidated buildings to be addressed. Colby purchased buildings with plans to renovate or raze, and the activity led other business people to do the same.

New businesses and investors, recognizing opportunities in the city, have begun to emerge, Colby said in a press release Thursday. New restaurants and businesses have opened and commercial real estate transactions in the downtown have increased.

“Similarly, Waterville’s residential real estate market is in the midst of unprecedented growth: the city’s population, long in decline, has reached its 1997 level while the median home price has risen 18 percent; sales are up 43 percent the past two years,” the college said. “In 2018 the City of Waterville completed its redevelopment of the RiverWalk at Head of Falls on the Kennebec River, offering a beautiful space for recreation and highlighting the historic Ticonic suspension footbridge, known fondly as Two Cent Bridge, which was used by factory workers walking to and from Winslow in the early 20th century.”

Robert Tierney, principal and lead architect for Baskerville, said in a statement that the design of the hotel “speaks to the rhythm and reinvention and rebirth that’s happened over time. Trade-inspired details and evocative references to Waterville’s past will blend with eye-catching nods to the forward-thinking attitude of diversity that energizes Colby and the entire City of Waterville, laying the foundation for a bold architectural statement featuring contemporary art and furnishings.”

Charlestowne expects to attract guests who want to explore the area’s mountains, lakes and forests, and visitors to Colby and the Colby College Museum of Art, as well as the future art and film center at 93 Main St., just north of the hotel. The restaurant and bar will welcome hotel guests as well as area residents.

“We were thrilled to be selected as we see great potential in Waterville and know the project will fill a need in the market,” said Michael Tall, Charlestowne’s president and chief operating officer. “We’ve seen a rise in interest in smaller, culturally significant towns and believe Waterville is the perfect candidate for an independent hotel and restaurant that will draw people from across the street to across the state.”

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

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