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Important progress is being made in the revitalization of downtown Waterville, as Colby College prepares to restore a historic building for up to 200 new high-tech workers and create new sites for future development where vacant and damaged buildings now stand. The College is also working to ease parking challenges on Main Street’s north end and plans to bring high-speed Internet to the downtown area.

173 Main Street Architectural RenderingWith an eye toward preserving its historic character and visual presence, Colby is renovating 173 Main Street to accommodate Collaborative Consulting, which will house 200 high-tech employees in the beautifully restored upper floors. Retail will occupy the street level of the 114-year-old building, which anchors the northern end of Main Street and has been vacant for decades. Mindful of concerns around downtown parking, Colby will create parking at 13-15 Appleton Street (the adjacent cross street) by razing an existing structure there.

“These important projects are just the first big steps in restoring Waterville’s historic core,” said Paul Ureneck, Colby’s director of commercial real estate. “It’s the foundation for bringing more jobs, shopping, dining, and living spaces downtown.”

Ureneck said renovations will be complete and 173 Main Street will welcome its new tenants in 2017.

Additionally, work will begin at 9 Main Street as well as at 14-20 Main Street to remove buildings structurally unfit for renovation. Colby and Waterville stakeholders are working with a number of potential partners to develop those spaces and provide a dynamic gateway to the southern end of Main Street. Retail, dining, office space, and a hotel are under consideration. The demolition process may take up to several months to complete, and contractors will work with the city to ensure safety and ease parking and traffic concerns while the work is underway.

To better accommodate businesses, residents, and visitors, Colby is working with community partners and stakeholders to create a wireless “hot zone” downtown.

In the last year Colby has purchased five properties in downtown Waterville and is poised to complete a purchase of land along Main Street for a planned student apartment complex focused on civic engagement. In December 2015 Colby announced that Collaborative Consulting, a Burlington, Mass.-based firm, would open a satellite facility in Waterville, ultimately bringing 200 jobs. Currently, the early hires of Collaborative Waterville are at work in the Hathaway Creative Center at the southern end of Main Street along the Kennebec River.