On May 11, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board made funding commitments totaling $4,067,320 to 10 organizations to carry out projects in Burlington, South Burlington, Essex, Barre, Montpelier, Bennington, Arlington, Shaftsbury, Putney, Brattleboro, Athens, Rockingham, and Westminster. The VHCB funds will be used to construct or rehabilitate 172 affordable apartments, provide affordable homeownership to five households, conserve nearly 80 acres of land, and to restore an historic building.
Champlain Valley – The City of Burlington, the Vermont Land Trust and the Champlain Housing Trust have reached agreement on a plan to protect 12 acres of open space and secure public access to Lake Champlain while also adding 149 affordable apartments.
“Yesterday’s funding commitment from VHCB is another major milestone in the achievement of the City of Burlington’s long-standing goals to preserve open space and create needed homes on this important community site, while creating new connections between the Old North End and the waterfront,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “Thank you to VHCB for this critical funding and crucial partnership in this community project.”
The 12-acre parcel, with a 900-foot sand beach, bluffs, woods and open fields, will be conserved by the Vermont Land Trust with $500,000 in VHCB funding. The parcel will be owned by the City and operated as a public park. Planned uses for the acreage include improved beach and bike path access, existing community gardens, a new playing field, and potential community use of Redstone Cottage, a historic stone building. Other funding for the conservation project came from the City’s Conservation Fund, private fundraising, foundation grants and a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.
The conserved parcel was subdivided from 27 acres that was sold by Burlington College last year. On the remaining 15 acres, 660 homes will be built in a mixed-income development. The Champlain Housing Trust and Housing Vermont will use a $700,000 VHCB award to construct 36 family rental apartments in the first phase of a 146-unit development on a 2-acre site along North Avenue. Additional affordable family and senior apartments and single family homes will be constructed on the site in four phases beginning in Spring 2017.
Cathedral Square Corporation will use $395,000 in federal HOME funds awarded by VHCB to construct 35 new apartments for seniors in the planned new town center of South Burlington. Part of a larger development, the 4-floor building to be constructed by developers Snyder/Braverman and purchased by Cathedral Square will feature common areas, underground parking, shared kitchen facilities, lounge areas, laundry rooms, an exercise room and resident storage areas. The site will be served by the SASH Program, which coordinates health care services for residents.
The Champlain Housing Trust will use $135,000 in VHCB funds to provide $27,000 purchase subsidies to five households buying affordable condominiums at Fort Ethan Allen in Essex. The five homes are among 31 units purchased by CHT from the University of Vermont in January 2016. Seventeen homes are located in the brick buildings along “Officer’s Row” that originally provided homes for sergeants and their families. There will be 19 affordable condominiums when rehabilitation (to include new flooring, paint, countertops and appliances) is complete. The location is close to the bus line, shopping and services, and the open land at the Fort Ethan Allen parade grounds creates an attractive site for families.
Central Vermont – On Main Street in Montpelier, Downstreet Housing & Community Development and Housing Vermont will develop 18 apartments in the upper stories of the historic French Block, above Aubuchon Hardware. The upper two floors have been vacant since the 1940s. The additional housing will help ease Montpelier’s tight rental market where the vacancy rate currently is around 1 percent.
Mayor John Hollar said, “This development is so important to the future of Montpelier. We are very, very pleased to be working with Downstreet on this opportunity to reclaim community space for affordable housing and continue our efforts to promote a vibrant downtown. ”
The apartments will require reconfiguration, new mechanical systems, insulation and structural work. Energy efficient water heaters, a heat pump system, LED lighting and air sealing will keep energy costs low. The mixture of one-bedroom and studio apartments will serve the large demand from one- and two-person households and the downtown location, with easy access to services and shopping, will be convenient for residents without cars. $600,000 in VHCB and HOME program funding will be complemented by Low-Income Housing and Historic Preservation tax credit equity and other funding sources. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2017.
In Barre, behind the Socialist Party Labor Hall, a cultural and union organizing hub for Italian granite workers immigrating to Barre in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a new enterprise will be established on the site of a former bakery built by Italian labor union members. ReSource YouthBuild, Spaulding High School, the culinary arts program at Capstone Community Action and the Barre Historical Society will collaborate to offer teen dropouts an opportunity to gain skills—first by working on restoring the former bakery and building a wood-fired oven, and then by learning to bake at the reconditioned RiseUp Bakery, while also earning their diplomas. A VHCB grant of $50,000 to the Barre Historical Society will help with the first rehab phase to include flooring, roofing, masonry and window repairs.
Southern Vermont – In Bennington, Arlington and Shaftsbury, Shires Housing and Housing Vermont will use $325,154 in VHCB funding and $179,846 in federal HOME funds to redevelop three rental housing sites with 22 apartments. The apartments were acquired nearly 20 years ago. They will be refinanced and energy improvements and rehabilitation will bring the buildings to current standards, reducing operating costs and increasing comfort. Energy savings following the work are expected to total 50%-73% of the pre-rehab energy costs.
With a VHCB grant of $68,820, the Windham Hill Pinnacle Association will purchase and conserve 33 acres of forested land inAthens, Rockingham and Westminster. WHPA will donate a conservation easement on an adjacent, 35-acre parcel that they will purchase with locally raised funds. The lands will add to a 1,800-acre nature preserve with more than 20 miles of trails running along a ridgeline west of the Connecticut River. The trail system is used by schools, residents and visitors and the conserved lands protect a wide swath of wildlife habitat.
The Bradley House is a residential care home in a former mansion overlooking the Connecticut River in Brattleboro. With $504,000 in VHCB funding, the owners, Holton Homes, Inc., will work with the Cathedral Square Corporation to upgrade and expand the facility, adding a wing with seven additional rooms, a new kitchen and dining room. In the original mansion the rooms will be reconfigured to include private baths. The building will be well insulated and new windows and a biomass system will be added for heating and hot water. The home is located in a quiet residential neighborhood within one-half to two miles of the post office, library, hospital, banks and stores.
On a 5-acre site on Old Depot Road in Putney, the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust and Housing Vermont will use $495,000 in federal HOME program funds and $80,000 in VHCB funding to build 18 family rental apartments in three town-house style buildings. The site is served by public transportation and is within one-half mile of the Putney Food Coop, community gardens, the library, and a post office with easy access to the interstate highway. The energy efficient design will use a biomass system for heat and hot water. The buildings will be arranged around a central green. Also wrapped into this project is the redevelopment of Noyes House, an historic home on Kimball Hill, overlooking the village. The rooms will be reconfigured to create four, 1-bedroom apartments and three bedrooms with supportive services provided.
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