Wednesday July 11, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- The owner of a Putney Road plaza has received all of the necessary state and local permits and is making plans to tear down the vacant movie theater on the lot.

Unison Realty Partners, a Cambridge-based company that owns the Royal Square Plaza on Putney Road, received its Act 250 permit last week and hopes to begin tearing down the former Kipling Cinema as soon as a few additional local approvals are in place.

Unison needs to get final approval for the demolition project and traffic reconfiguration from the existing tenants in the plaza.

Once the other tenants have signed off on the plan, Unison will begin demolishing the former cinema and making way for a proposed 16,000-square-foot Aldi's discount grocery store at 762 Putney Road.

Unison Realty Partners owns the property and will be leasing the site to Aldi's.

"Everyone involved with this project, including us, the town and the tenant, is excited to get started," said Unison Realty Partners Investment Officer Joe Molle. "I think you are going to see us out there sooner as opposed to later."

Molle would not make any predictions about how long demolition and construction could take, though he said he expected the Kipling Cinema to come down in the coming months.

Unison had its Act 250 application held up after the Vermont Agency of Transportation objected to some of the company's plans to change the way traffic flows into and out of the parking lot.


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Aldi's wants traffic to be able to enter its parking lot without going all the way down toward Staple's, as the parking lot is currently laid out.

VTrans thought the new plan would back traffic up onto Putney Road, but the Act 250 Commission allowed the new plan, with the stipulation that traffic studies be conducted for five years.

The Act 250 Commission issued its permit on July 5.

"It's great to have all of our state and municipal permits, and there are only a few things that still need to transpire before we commence construction," Molle said. "We just have a few last steps before we can put the shovels in the ground. I hope to begin Phase One very soon."

Aldi's discount grocers is based in Germany and has more than 3,000 stores across Europe and Australia, and about 1,000 stores in 31 states in the United States.

The store specializes in offering a small selection of each item, and sells international foods.

The closest Aldi store to Brattleboro is in Bennington.

The estimated cost of the Brattleboro project is about $1.2 million.

The Brattleboro Development Review Board has already approved the project and Brattleboro Planning Director Rod Francis said now that the Act 250 process is over there should be activity out near the vacant Kipling Cinema, which closed in March 2011.

"It looks like this project is going to go ahead. We're happy there is a new use for a building that has been vacant for some time," Francis said. "I would expect them to be making plans to begin very soon. I think they are eager to move quickly."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279