May 6, 2015
Congratulations to Vermont Rural Ventures on being selected as a semi-finalist in the Community Development Category for the NDC Academy Awards 2015. The NDC Academy Awards Semi-Finalists represent some of the most innovative and impactful developments changing the lives for residents in underserved communities across the country, NDC is honored to highlight the achievements of these organizations at the NDC Academy 2015.
Historic Brooks House Redevelopment – Brattleboro, VT
The historic Brooks House is an 80,000 square foot mixed-use building located in the geographic and historic heart of Brattleboro Vermont’s downtown. It is THE most prominent commercial property and architectural element in this rural community. Built in 1871, it was one of the most prominent luxury hotels in New England. A second life came to the Brooks House in the 1970s when the icon was saved from demolition and retrofitted into 59 residential apartments and 16 commercial spaces. In April 2011, a five-alarm fire gutted much of the building destroying the homes of over 80 people and several businesses. If the blow to the downtown via the fire wasn’t enough, Brattleboro then suffered losses through major flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene that same year. After two years of sitting idle and increasing anxiety among the community, a group of five local citizens purchased the building and organized a multi-million dollar restoration plan. Resurrecting the Brooks House was essential to the health and viability of Brattleboro’s downtown but required a complex financing structure to make it possible. The $23 million project leveraged all possible sources – New Markets Tax Credits, Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, conventional financing, a state legislative appropriation, a community development block grant, town funding, individual investors, owner equity, and support from those near and far. The financing closed in July 2013. Completed just over a year later in October 2014, the project sponsors redeveloped the building to include an innovative mix of retail, office, education, and residential spaces. Key elements of the restoration include reconfiguring the upper stories to provide bigger apartments for different income levels, adding on to the mid-levels to serve as office and classroom space for education based tenants, and restoring the historic ground floor storefront space for retail tenants.