Downtown project gets state boost
STAFF AND WIRE REPORT | July 24,2013
The state is helping make downtown Rutland a little bit bigger.
Mark Foley’s renovation of the upper floors of two of his Merchants Row buildings to serve as the new location of the Home Service Store has received a $46,500 state tax credit, defraying the cost of the $320,000 renovation.
The project is one of 31 in 20 Vermont downtowns to benefit from almost $2 million in tax credits announced Tuesday. Statewide, the credits will boost $18 million in construction.
The credits are a benefit of Vermont’s Downtown and Village Center Designation. The credits can support hard-to-finance projects and support state-mandated code requirements, such as sprinkler systems or elevators.
“What distinguishes Vermont, what makes our quality of life so extraordinary in this state is the fact that neighbors take care of neighbors, neighbors take care of strangers. We want to help each other, and downtowns are the connections, the heart of that very essence of Vermont,” Gov. Peter Shumlin said during an announcement in Morrisville.
Downtown Rutland Partnership executive director Michael Coppinger said portions of the area being restored were essentially unusable.
“It had been dilapidated, not really inhabitable,” he said. “This is a resurrection of a space. We’re adding to the inventory downtown.”
Coppinger said that added to the $2.5 million Green Mountain Power is spending to convert the former Eastman’s building into its Energy Innovation Center and smaller efforts like Small Dog Electronics (another Foley building) and Griffin’s Publick House, the Home Service Center project has the downtown totaling almost $4 million in renovations in the last year.
Coppinger said he believed it has been roughly a decade since Rutland got one of the tax credits offered under the designated downtown program.
Morrisville was a big winner Tuesday, with six projects in its downtown winning credits. The biggest was the former Arthurs Department Store, which received $233,500 toward a $3.5 million rehabilitation package creating 18 apartments and ground-floor retail space. Construction is scheduled to get under way next month.
“Generations of people in Morrisville and Lamoille County have been in here and bought a pair of socks, bought a shirt or whatever and it generated a lot of foot traffic for a lot of people over the years, and when they closed up the doors and the town didn’t know what was going to happen, that was a big question mark,” said Matt Moore, a developer with Housing Vermont who is among those working to rehabilitate the building. “The significance, really, is bringing life back to Main Street.”
Other projects that will be supported with the credits include the reconstruction of a block in downtown St. Johnsbury that was damaged by fire last December, work in the Catamount school in Bennington, access and safety improvements at the Old Labor Hall in Barre and improvements to the Bank Building in Richford.
Associated Press reporter Wilson Ring and Herald reporter Gordon Dritschilo contributed to this article.