Woolson Block renovation to begin in April

Woolson Block. Photo provided by Springfield Housing Authority

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – The Woolson Block renovation project, a redevelopment endeavor located on Main Street in downtown Springfield, is scheduled to begin construction in April. The building was originally purchased in 2016 from a private owner, E. J. Cully of Bridgewater, and is currently managed by co-general partners Springfield Housing Unlimited and Housing Vermont.

The project was originally part of a $37 million “affordable apartments” development project throughout the state, supported by federal low-income credits and Vermont Affordable Housing Credits through the Vermont Housing Finance Agency. A fund for 11 projects throughout Vermont came from the sale of the tax credits to investors and was anticipated to cover an estimated 55 percent of the restoration costs.

Sponsored by the Springfield Housing Authority, the Woolson Block project will include 15 affordable apartments, four “service enriched housing units” for homeless or at-risk of being homeless youths, and a fully renovated commercial storefront. SHA was to raise an estimated $3 million through the sale of tax credits with remaining funds coming from state, historic and downtown tax credits, as well as the Community Development Block Grant program. The Woolson Block project received $400,000 from this grant program.

“We are excited to support this array of community projects, and we thank all the people and organizations who are working hard to improve the lives of Vermonters and all the communities that we call home,” said Josh Hanford, Vermont Department of Community Development’s deputy commissioner.

The design plan is to eliminate one residential unit by demolishing the 650-foot southwest brick addition of the building, convert the Park Street-level commercial units into residential space and relocate the youth housing program from the Main Street floor level to the first level, then expand the Main Street commercial rental space.

“The initial estimated cost of the project was $5 million and is now set at about $8 million,” said Bill Morlock of the Springfield Housing Authority. “HP Cummings Construction is managing the project and handling the bidding.” HP Construction is based in Waterbury, Vt. and Woodsville, N.H.

“The first step in the process will be the removal of all hazardous waste material before the construction company chosen will begin the renovation process by tearing down the back side of the building and stabilizing the ledge of the property facing the river.”

Several local organizations will be working together to assist in occupying the renovated building. Springfield On The Move will assist in bringing in a local business to fill the retail space and local social organizations such as Health Care Rehabilitation Services of Vermont, the Springfield Vermont Department of Social Services, and Windham County Youth Services will help with filling the residential apartments. The construction process is expected to take about a year to complete.

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