Tax credits to help revitalize historic buildings in Bellows Falls, Springfield

BELLOWS FALLS/SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – On Thursday, Aug. 13, Gov. Phil Scott announced that 27 Vermont communities received tax credits totaling $3.2 million for 30 projects in downtown centers across the state. Among these projects, Springfield and Bellows Falls each received credits for two projects in each downtown.

Bellows Falls was award $30,750 for the Bellows Falls Firehouse at 17 Rockingham St. as well as $200,000 for 115 Rockingham St., a property that is “an early example of a now common parking garage,” which will be rehabilitated into low income housing. Springfield received $443,500 for their continuing development of the Black River Innovation Campus at 60 Park St. and $62,500 for the Cotton Mill at 16 Park St.

“I’m proud to see Vermont’s continued commitment to investing in downtowns during these uncertain times,” Gov. Scott said during his announcement. “It is a testament to our sense of community and entrepreneurship, and I’m pleased the state can support this work through this program.”

The property at 17 Rockingham St. is the old Bellows Falls Firehouse that was built in 1904. Today, it houses seven mixed-use rental spaces, including Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio, a full-service landscaping and gardening design studio, with six employees who are now operating out of the third floor space. The $30,750 tax credit award will go toward installing a sprinkler system throughout the building. The whole project will cost $61,500, and the final result will make the property more economically viable for the downtown.

An old parking garage at 115 Rockingham St. is undergoing a hefty renovation to be used for 26 low-income apartment units, including five units for the homeless. The rehabilitation will include exterior alternations, accessibility upgrades, efficiency and indoor air quality, and mitigation of hazardous materials. The full project will cost approximately $8.8 million.

Springfield Regional Development Corp. recently purchased the Park Street School to house the Black River Innovation Campus that is a major draw to the area of Springfield. The campus has a temporary workspace for remote work, but the renovation of the campus includes co-working and private commercial space, 24 studio apartments, a renovated gym, and an 800-seat theater. The total project costs $15.5 million. The Park Street School redevelopment project was award a $443,500 tax credit.

“SRDC greatly appreciates the continued strong state support for the Park Street redevelopment project and for the Black River Innovation Campus,” says Bob Flint, executive director of SRDC. “This is an important puzzle piece to help us move forward with this effort, and we hope to have more good news to share soon!”

“The corner stone of downtown,” the Cotton Mill, at 16-20 Park St., will be renovated into multi-housing units and commercial spaces. The project costs $147,200 and the tax credit award was $62,500. The work will focus on code compliance and expanding the second floor to accommodate three apartments, enhancing the street level entrance, and supporting the rental of the commercial space.

“The pandemic has required everyone to step back and rethink what they do,” said Josh Hanford, Housing and Community Development commissioner. “It’s extremely inspiring for me to see that Main Street building owners have decided there has never been a better time to make the place they call home even better for their residents, businesses, and visitors.”

Overall, the tax credits will support over $160 million in rehabilitation projects in downtowns and village centers across Vermont. Other projects include a lodging facility in Rochester with accommodations for cross-country hikers and bikers; conversion of the former Bridgewater School into a community center; rehabilitation of general stores in Craftsbury and East Calais; and more.

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