BRATTLEBORO -- Bob Silver wasn't looking to change the complexion of the north end of Brattleboro.
The "retired" dentist moved up to Vermont nine years ago from Long Island to spend time with his wife and enjoy his time after building a successful dentist network in New York.
Now a real estate investment has helped him to envision a different north end with natural medicine, health foods and activities for the aging, and healthy baby boomers and a younger generation that has fully embraced what used to be known as an alternative lifestyle.
"This is too good not to try" he said. "Wherever this goes I want to at least give it a try."
Silver is the new owner of the Vermont Building on Putney Road.
When he first toured the building he found that the top two floors were mostly unoccupied and he wants to bring in acupuncturists, massage therapists and other alternative health practitioners.
The businesses that rent the offices in the building already cover the expenses associated with running the building and he says he wants to bring in the health care specialists to offer their services to what he sees as a growing demographic in Brattleboro.
Silver and his wife have skied in Vermont for years and they purchased a small second home here years back.
One day, seven years ago, his wife had a stroke while they were in Vermont, and she ended up at Grace Cottage Hospital.
The care she received from the staff and the support the nearby community provided overwhelmed the Long Island natives and they decided to move up to New England.
While he was considering other real estate options, an agent showed him the Vermont Building.
He fell in love with the architecture, and when he did the numbers, and realized that the existing tenants would largely cover his expenses, he began to see a new use for the unoccupied space.
"I think there is support for something like this," he says, looking out across the bright, open space. "I'm giving myself four months. I don't need to profit by this, I just want to do a good thing."
Silver has always been in interested in whole foods and holistic health.
He helped start a food co-op in Port Jefferson, N.Y., and was an investor in a natural food restaurant way before McDonald's started selling salads in plastic cups.
Silver says he has always felt like he was slightly ahead of the curve of believing in holistic health care and food and since moving to Vermont Silver feels like those beliefs are more strongly entrenched in the people here.
He says he is willing to invite the health care practitioners to his new endeavor for a reasonable rate. They can rent a space for a few hours a day or for the month.
What he wants to create, he says, is a place where alternative health practices can thrive. He wants to develop an institution that welcomes independent practitioners who might find it hard otherwise to set up an office and offer their services.
Silver says Brattleboro is a special community and he sees a north end of Brattleboro that caters to a growing demographic.
At 70 years of age, Silver is fit and says he expects to live another 15 years.
He thinks that is a growing trend for people his age to seek alternative ideas and he says he is committed to doing what he can to make that happen.
"Successful people are those who see things that are not there," he said. "I see something special up here. I feel it. I have the luxury not to worry about the investment and I have the time so I should at least try."
Silver is looking for people who are interested in joining him in transforming the Vermont Building.
He can be reached at 802-874-4039 or at email@example.com
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or firstname.lastname@example.org.