Sep. 29—LEWISTON — Bates College recently purchased a former convent — which stands beside one of its athletic fields on Campus Avenue — from St. Mary's Healthcare System for $1.95 million.
The college plans to use the 1977 building, which has long housed medical offices and a daycare center, for temporary office space while renovations are underway elsewhere on campus.
Its long-term use is uncertain.
College spokesperson Mary Pols said St. Mary's approached Bates earlier this year about the possible sale of the 3-acre property, assessed for $2.1 million.
"Given its location," she said, the three-story, brick building was "an obvious strategic acquisition for the college."
Bates has a long history of snapping up property as it becomes available near its campus. It certainly wanted to control the fate of a building nestled between the hospital and the college's core property next door.
Pols said St. Mary's "will continue to occupy it through the fall," but there will be growing signs of activity around the building as Bates begins to take over, including removing signs and fences. It will be connected to the college's information technology system soon after.
St. Mary's said last spring that it decided to sell the property after a strategic review of its assets. It plans to use the money for renovations and other improvements.
During the negotiations between Bates and the hospital, a long-time tenant that used the first floor of the building, the YMCA of Auburn-Lewiston's Daisy Garden Childcare Center, announced it would close in May.
Childcare options in the area remain even more scant in the wake of the closure.
Pols said the college "may use the building as swing office space" initially, "particularly to relieve space pressures from renovation projects on campus."
With the recent completion of the new Bonney Science Center, Bates' focus has shifted to the renovation of the historic Dana Chemistry Hall.
Pols said that longer-term use of the newly acquired building "will take further study."