State to Sell Thayer School Building to Group for Development


Senior housing and retail space will be added, state will retain DMV site

BURLINGTON, Vt. – June 18, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) – The State of Vermont will sell the New North End building that currently houses a DMV office to a non-profit group that will redevelop it into a combination of commercial space and affordable senior housing.

Governor Jim Douglas made the announcement at the former Thayer School building on North Avenue today. He noted that the state will keep the Department of Motor Vehicles office there through a condominium arrangement with a partnership of new owners, Cathedral Square Corporation, Champlain Housing Trust and EF Farrell.

“This is a win-win arrangement for everyone involved, and certainly for the city of Burlington,” Douglas said. “Not only will the DMV continue operating here, but the building will be redeveloped and as many as 100 new, affordable housing units could be created for elderly and working Vermonters.”

The state DMV now occupies only part of the Thayer School site, which consists of the original 1947 building and an addition put on in 1967.

The state acquired the school in 1982 after the city no longer needed it, and it housed both DMV and the Agency of Human Services, which later relocated to other offices in the Burlington area.

The partnership intends to demolish about half the addition and build up to 100 new units of senior affordable housing. The commercial portion will focus on bringing in the types of businesses that fit within a neighborhood activity center. The housing will be a mix of senior housing and housing for working families.

The DMV will retain office space through a condominium purchase arrangement while the rest of the property will be a mixture of commercial and retail space.

State officials anticipate that the City of Burlington will apply for some of Vermont’s roughly $19 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program money as part of the funding for the project.

That money was distributed to states to buy and resell foreclosed homes and to refurbish other buildings as part of the response to the mortgage crisis.

“This is a great opportunity for BGS to get underutilized space off the state’s books and convert it to a higher use,” said Gerry Myers, Commissioner of the Department of Buildings and General Services.

“We’re very pleased to be acquiring and re-developing this property,” said Amy Wright Development Director for Cathedral Square. “We are here today because a group of New North End residents had the foresight to bring this site to the attention of the State and City and ask for it to be put to a better use. We think that our partnership can do this, and we are grateful for their vision. Creating a mixture of both commercial property and affordable housing will be a real benefit to this neighborhood.”

“As our population ages, we will need more affordable housing units for seniors who want to remain in their communities, but move into a smaller dwelling,” Douglas said. “Projects like these allow seniors to stay in the immediate neighborhood, near friends, family, and support systems. They also allow the homes that these seniors are leaving to become available for new families to move in and begin raising children here.”



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