MONTPELIER, Vt. – August 26, 2008 – (RealEstateRama) — Governor Jim Douglas has announced the allocation of $1.6 million in tax credits for Vermont communities to assist in revitalization of buildings in downtowns and village centers.
The projects approved by the Downtown Development Board on Monday ranged from reconstructing the recently fire-damaged Village Store in Putney to multi-million dollar developments in downtowns such as Springfield’s across the state.
“These tax credits help attract private investment to our designated downtowns and village centers – places where everyone agrees development should be directed,” Douglas said. “This is an investment in new affordable housing, new businesses and jobs, and community revitalization.”
Brandon will receive $200,300 in credits for installing an elevator and sprinkler system in the Smiths Block, the last large commercial building in downtown Brandon yet to undergo rehabilitation.
“This project will bring the building up to code and place the upper floors back into productive use as housing and office space,” Douglas said.
Bellows Falls will benefit from $168,300 in credits for the Hotel Windham to bring the upper floors back into commercial use, install a sprinkler system, and bring the building up to code.
“The top two floors of this building, which is so prominent in the square, have been dark for over 20 years,” Douglas said. “Restoring them to use is a big step forward for Bellows Falls.”
Brattleboro-based Fulcrum Arts, LLC will use $190,000 in credits to help renovate the Brattleboro Machine Works/Tri State Auto Part building at 47 Elm Street in order to create an arts destination in downtown Brattleboro.
Fulcrum Arts, LLC will own and operate the Elm Street facilities that currently house glass blower Randi Solin; Ceramic Artist Natalie Blake; and the Fulcrum Gallery and School.
“This building has been an anchor to the industrial life of the downtown over the last 100 or more years,” Douglas said. “This project will help bring together the arts district and industrial districts of the town.”
In Enosburg $66,000 worth of tax credits will help the owners of the Somerset Inn install a sprinkler system and fire alarm to bring the building into compliance with codes and allow full use of the upper floors.
“Built in 1876, the Somerset Inn is the oldest operating restaurant in the village of Enosburg Falls,” Douglas said. “It has also been in operation as an inn for the majority of that time, and is an important business.”
Fairhaven will get a boost from $85,000 in tax credits to assist in renovating the presently vacant second and third floors of an historic three story building at 49 Main Street, including both sprinkler and security systems.
“This will create six one-bedroom apartments, and one studio apartment, helping to meet the need for rental apartments for young professionals, students of Green Mountain and Castleton State Colleges, and visiting consultants and professors,” Douglas said.
In Morrisville, $57,388 in credits will help River Arts project rehabilitate the Lamoille Grange Hall building at 74 Pleasant Street and makes it complaint with fire and building codes so it can be used as an intergenerational arts center and home of River Arts.
“This building originally housed Morrisville’s high school and later served as the Lamoille Grange Hall,” Douglas said. “Now it will be the home of Lamoille Valley Farmers and Artisan Market.”
The re-construction and rehabilitation of the Putney General Store after a major fire destroyed the roof and damaged the building earlier this year will be aided by $40,000 in tax credits.
“This historic building was originally constructed in 1769 as a grist mill and then rebuilt in the mid-19th century as a general store, always an important fixture in a small town,” Douglas said. “Returning it to service and restoring the residential space on the second floor will strengthen this community.”
The Chandler Center for the Arts in Randolph will benefit from $127,481 in tax credits as it renovates its existing 100-year-old building in Randolph, including installing a sprinkler system throughout the existing building and the new addition and making changes to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“These improvements will help the Chandler expand arts programs and education for persons of all ages, abilities, and incomes throughout Central Vermont,” Douglas said.
Springfield will see two major projects receiving assistance from these tax credits.
The Woolson Block at 31-41 Main Street will get $75,000 towards renovating and restoring the 2nd and 3rd floor residential area of this 1860’s brick building, including wiring and plumbing and the installation of a sprinkler system to meet code requirements.
“This building is a key part of the downtown and when renovated into condominiums will provide affordable homeownership within downtown,” Douglas said. “And it will be made more energy efficient with extensive insulation, sealing, and window repairs.”
The Fellows Gear Shaper building on River Street is an even more important downtown landmark and $344,731 worth of tax credits will help refurbish this largely underused parcel fronting the Black River.
“The ambitious re-development plan includes reclaiming the historic office space for professional office use and upgrading the building’s safety, service capabilities, and technology to make it suitable for light industrial, commercial and high-technology applications,” Douglas said.
The Ryan Block, one of the largest structures in downtown Vergennes, will receive $105,800 in credits to install an elevator and sprinkler system necessary to make the upper floors comply with housing codes.
“Originally constructed in 1848 as a hotel, this building was converted in the late 1800’s to mixed commercial and residential space and retains that important role today,” Douglas said. “As part of the Vergennes Historic District, it’s a critical element of Main Street and downtown.”
Finally, the NAMCO Block in Windsor – formerly Armory Square Apartments – will see $140,000 in tax credits as part of its redevelopment into 58 well-sized apartments as part of the Union Square Project.
Those repairs include replacing all existing windows; installing a new insulated roof; replacing the rear porches; installing a five-stop elevator and two new stair towers; new mechanical, electrical, and complete fire protection systems.
“These apartments will now be ADA compliant and made safer and more energy efficient by sealing it; installing sprinklers, and conducting lead and asbestos abatement, as well as work to restore the building’s historically significant features,” Douglas said.
The state tax credit program is designed to work with the federal tax credit program to leverage a combined state-federal credit valued between 30 and 40 percent of eligible expenses.
This linkage has made a record number of multi-million dollar rehabilitation projects possible. In fact, this fiscal year the program has approved $45 million worth of projects, netting Vermonters $9 million in tax credits.
These credits not only benefit the user, they boost state revenues from taxes on wages generated by new jobs and on sales of goods and services.
These projects help preserve Vermont’s historic buildings, enhance the tourism industry, and make good use of existing buildings and infrastructure while fighting sprawl.
To date, 22 downtowns and 78 village centers are designated and all older and historic buildings in these designated areas are eligible for these investment incentives.
To become a Designated Downtown, communities must have both a downtown revitalization organization and demonstrate their commitment and capacity to support such a program, as well as meet several other requirements. Village Centers go through a similar, but abbreviated process.
Designated communities become eligible to compete for funding for building rehabilitation and safety improvements, and transportation projects.
The Downtown Board also approved application materials for the new Vermont Neighborhoods program, implementing a new law creating incentives for new housing development, including affordable housing, in and around downtowns and villages.
The program will begin accepting applications on August 1st, and information on the program is available at: http://www.dhca.state.vt.us/Planning/VermontNeighborhoods.htm
Tax Credit Allocation Summary
Brandon 10-16 Center St (Smiths Block) $200,300
Bellows Falls Hotel Windham $168,300
Brattleboro 47 Elm Street (Fulcrum Arts) $190,000
Enosburg 57 Depot Street (Summerset Inn) $66,000
Fairhaven 49 Main Street $85,000
Morrisville 74 Pleasant Street (River Arts) $57,388
Putney Village Store $40,000
Randolph Chandler Center for the Arts $127,481
Springfield Woolson Block $75,000
Springfield Fellows Gear $344,731
Vergennes Ryan Block $105,800
Windsor Armory Square $140,000
CONTACT: Jason Gibbs (802) 828-3333