After nearly 80 years, the apartments on the top two floors of Montpelier’s 1875 Federal-style French Block building will finally re-open its doors to the community. Downstreet Housing & Community Development and Housing Vermont partnered to restore the building to its former glory while creating much-needed housing apartments in the heart of downtown Montpelier.
On January 3, the two nonprofits joined community members along with Mayor Anne Watson and other municipal officials, legislators, and funders to celebrate the completion of the French Block apartments. Speaking before a large gathering, Mayor Watson stated, “Our communities are more vibrant when we ensure that people have the opportunity to live and work in downtown. The French Block apartments will provide new homes to our friends and neighbors and will provide a big boost to Montpelier. Thank you to Downstreet and Housing Vermont – we have been proud to be part of this genuine collaboration, and a diverse group of partners and local leaders!”
Housing Vermont’s Asset Management division is welcoming a new member while three current staff members will have new responsibilities.
“I’m pleased to announce that Charlie Van Winkle has joined the Asset Management staff in the new position of Director of Energy Services,” said Eric Schmitt, VP for Asset Management and Portfolio Initiatives. “Charlie will be responsible for streamlining and expanding the use of the Parsons Platform, our cloud-based energy database and analytic tool. He’ll also identify opportunities for energy efficiency projects in our portfolio while fostering relationships with our energy and nonprofit partners.”
Charlie, who was recently elected to the Board of Directors at Vermont Electric Coop, has an extensive background in renewable energy and business development. He is also the chair of the Development Review Board for the Town of Underhill.
Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV) presented 10 awards to individuals and organizations at its June 15 Historic Preservation and Downtown Conference. Two awards were given to Housing Vermont and its local partners in recognition of special contributions in preserving Vermont’s downtowns and village centers.
PTV recognized Housing Vermont, COTS and Duncan – Wisniewski Architects for the renovation of 95 North Avenue, Burlington which created 14 affordable apartments as well as 14,000 square feet of program and administrative space for COTS. Half of the apartments offer service-enriched housing for homeless individuals or those at-risk of becoming homeless.
“Bob Duncan, the project architect, designed a beautiful restoration of the old Colodny building and a new addition at 95 North Avenue,” said HV Director of Development Kathy Beyer. “We are thrilled to have our work recognized by the Preservation Trust of Vermont. Our building now provides a home of dignity and grace for the Daystation, the COTS headquarters, and new residents.”
The ability to pursue educational opportunities beyond high school can expand economic opportunities. In May, Housing Vermont presented one-year scholarships to residents of Housing Vermont-affiliated properties as part of its HV Connections program to improve social and economic outcomes for residents, partnerships, and communities.
Educational grants were awarded to:
- Leslie Rodriquez, Richford
- Kristine Burpee, Springfield
- Casey Kimball, Vergennes
“Our work focuses on creating possibilities for Vermonters through developing affordable housing and financing economic development,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens. “We appreciate that education also expands opportunities and are excited to be able to help these residents continue their education.”
Housing Vermont signed a purchase and sales agreement for the Depot Square property on June 1. Working in close partnership with the Kingdom Development Corporation, Housing Vermont will redevelop the building for affordable housing and commercial opportunities.
The Depot Square apartment building is located at the heart of St. Johnsbury’s downtown. The building is in need of substantial renovations and the ground floor commercial space has been vacant for several years. Investment in the building will result in improved affordable housing options for St. Johnsbury residents as well as commercial opportunities on the ground floor.
The wait is over! On May 29 Senator Patrick Leahy and Governor Phil Scott joined housing and transportation advocates, local and state officials, Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson and many others to celebrate the summertime groundbreaking of the 1 Taylor Street project.
The site, currently a parking lot, will become home to a ground-level transit center to provide public transportation throughout the City and the region, and serve as the Greyhound bus hub for Montpelier. Housing Vermont and Downstreet Housing & Community Development will build 30 mixed-income apartments above the transit center providing needed housing in the core of the downtown.
“Today we are breaking ground on a project that has been decades in the making. This new multimodal transit center is not just a good project, but the right project for Montpelier. It addresses critical transportation and housing needs while setting the stage for new private investments in our capital city’s downtown. Vermont’s future requires that we increase the vibrancy and livability of our downtowns and village centers and this project does that in a big way,” said Senator Leahy.
Senator Leahy, Eileen Peltier, Nancy Owens and Congressman Welch
For the past 75 years, the apartments on the top two floors of Montpelier’s French Block have stood empty. That is changing. Downstreet Housing & Community Development and Housing Vermont are now working together to restore the building to its former glory while creating much-needed housing units in the heart of Montpelier.
Today, Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Peter Welch joined the two nonprofits, municipal officials, funders, community members, and others to celebrate the start of construction.
“One of the reasons I work to increase the federal investments that help Vermont build new homes is because a stable and affordable place to live can make all the difference. They make a difference both to the person or family living in that home, but also to the entire community. Our communities are more vibrant when we ensure that people have the opportunity to live and work in a downtown,” said Senator Patrick Leahy. “Thanks to the hard work of Downstreet and Housing Vermont, that opportunity will be a reality for more of our friends and neighbors.”
Nancy Owens has announced that Beth Boutin has been promoted to serve as Vice President for Community Investments.
“Housing Vermont’s New Markets Tax Credit program has flourished under Beth’s direction,” Nancy said. “We look forward to Beth bringing her talents to this new position.”
As a member of the senior staff, Beth will be responsible for broadening and maintaining strong alliances with affordable housing and community development investment and business partners, identifying and securing resources, developing New Markets Tax Credit business opportunities, directing multi-investor and proprietary housing equity funds, and staffing Investment Committees and VRV boards.
The Vermont Housing Finance Agency awarded Housing Vermont and its local development partners a total of 2,287,000 in allocated (9%) Low Income Housing Tax Credits for four new construction developments.
“This is great news that will benefit four different housing markets across the state,” said Housing Vermont President Nancy Owens. “These developments respond in different ways to local needs and opportunities to increase the supply of affordable apartments by building new housing.”
Kenn Sassorossi, Housing Vermont’s long-time Vice President for Partner Relations, has announced that he will be retiring in mid-July.
“I’ve been fortunate to work closely with Kenn for more than 18 years,” said HV President Nancy Owens. “All the Housing Vermont staff and board will miss working with Kenn; his warmth, good humor and intelligence improve our lives daily,” Nancy said.
Kenn came to Housing Vermont in December 2000 when he was asked to concentrate on increasing communications with local, state, and investor partners. When HV created the multi-investor Green Mountain Housing Equity Fund in 2003, Kenn added fund manager to his public policy and communications work.