Gov. John Baldacci said, “It represents the heart and soul of this community.”
And more than 300 supporters remained upbeat and enthusiastic after no fewer than 20 speakers took their turns at the microphone during groundbreaking ceremonies in the cavernous first floor of the former Hathaway shirt factory on the banks for the Kennebec River.
The speakers and the unexpectedly big audience assembled Jan. 10 to celebrate the groundbreaking for the Hathaway Creative Center and to praise developer Paul Boghossian ’76 for his vision, persistence, and tenacity over the last four years as he rescued the derelict mill for historic restoration and conversion to mixed retail, commercial, and residential use.
Among the speakers was Colby President William Adams, who referred to widespread concern about the number of young, well-educated people who leave Maine for other career opportunities. “But,” he said, looking at Boghossian, “when they come back, they come back in extraordinary ways.”
Boghossian, who has worked on similar restoration projects in his home state
of Rhode Island, teamed up with Tom Neimann, president of Neimann Capital, to move his dream of saving the Hathaway building to January’s celebratory groundbreaking.
Boghossian said charter tenants include three radio stations, a spa and salon, nearly 300 employees of MaineGeneral Medical Center and HealthReach, and a trendy design, furniture, and accessories store.
Introduced as “a man with a dream” and a Colby College graduate, Boghossian thanked a host of national and state legislators and financial backers who had helped with the “the transformation of the Hathaway into its second life” and who showed up to applaud him.
“Colby was really there in the end, providing a million dollars in financing to put us over the top,” he said, referring to the College’s investment in the project.