Amid the economic slowdown, two mainstays of Waterville’s downtown are on the move.
After more than three years of planning and extensive historic renovation, the Hathaway Creative Center opened in November. The riverfront mill that once housed the Hathaway Shirt Co. welcomed its first major office tenants, MaineGeneral Health and the HealthReach Network. Work continued as apartment and studio space was readied, with the first residential tenants expected to move in this spring.
The project, undertaken by Rhode Island-based developer Paul Boghossian ’76 and business partner Thomas Niemann, is expected to be a mainstay of downtown redevelopment in Waterville. The mill is on the banks of the Kennebec River, affording expansive riverfront views.
Boghossian intends to follow the Hathaway renovation with redevelopment of two adjacent mills. Boghossian—and state, local, and Colby officials—predict the renovation of the mills will bring in a new wave of residents, office workers, professionals, and artisans to the city center.
Plans and fundraising also are underway for a $4-million renovation of the Waterville Opera House. Opened in 1902 with Waterville City Hall, the Opera House still is in use. But Lisa Hallee ’81, chair of Opera House’s development committee and senior major gifts officer at Colby, recently told city officials that the 900-seat facility needs extensive modernization. “It’s incumbent upon us to make sure this special place can benefit generations to come,” she said.
Plans call for upgrading the balcony seating, installing new flooring, reconfiguring walls to improve acoustics, and improving safety of exits. “The backstage is both crowded and unsafe,” Hallee told the Morning Sentinel. “It is crowded with three stories of dressing rooms dating back to 1902."