WILMINGTON -- Altogether, there are 37 projects that will receive $2.4 million in tax incentives to support downtowns and village centers. Five of those projects are based in Wilmington.
"Wilmington did very well," said Town Manager Scott Murphy. "This is a reflection of the ongoing and increasing growth in town. We have many downtown businesses that were purchased and are being renovated now. They're going to open shortly."
According to a press release, Gov. Peter Shumlin said these types of incentives are proven to jumpstart transformation in communities and have brought jobs, business and housing to downtowns and villages across the state. The historic tax credit program is available to projects within the designated downtown program.
Last year, tax credits to support 31 projects were approved, including Dot's Restaurant in Wilmington. According to Agency of Commerce and Community Development Tax Credits and Grants Coordinator Caitlin Corkins, there will not be a fall round of funding available for the downtown and village tax credit program as funding was exhausted this last round.
With the most individual properties approved for the incentives this year, Murphy said the town's Economic Development Consultant Gretchen Havreluk had reached out to some of the new owners of vacant buildings in town and told them about the available tax credits. She said Corkins came to town and walked applicants through the steps.
At the tax credit cermony in Burlington on Monday, Shumlin asked Havreluk to talk about the projects going on in Wilmington
"It was really amazing to have that opportunity," she said, adding, "There's still a lot to do."
According to Murphy, the tax credit program operates in a way that is similar to rebate programs.
"Except it's not in the past tense, it's going forward," he said. "It's a great benefit to offer. We're very luck to have had a lot of success."
Downtown organization Wilmington Works Executive Director Adam Grinold said the approved tax credits were great for the town and it showed the foresight of those involved in forming the downtown district.
"It really shows that long-term planning can really bring resources to the town that would not have otherwise existed," he said. "It's nice to have access to one more tool that will encourage property owners to leap into investing into their building."
Grinold attended the tax credit ceremony and noted that the $2.4 million investment into the program is believed to support nearly $78 million worth of projects around the state.
The former Vermont House building is currently under renovation and will eventually become a new hotel. The property sits at 15 West Main Street and it was said to be used as a tavern and inn since 1864. Rehabilitation there consists of making 13 guest rooms and is expected to cost $950,000. The project will receive $78,235 in tax credits. Murphy said those involved in that project will also receive discounts on materials..
The 1, 2 and 3 East Main Street properties, which formerly housed the Wilmington Home Center as well as the Professional Building, were vacant. Currently, there are rehabilitation plans to include a first floor retail space, hotel rooms, a coffee bar and a connector addition with an elevator. Some renovations there have begun, Havreluk said. The total project cost is $1,928,400 with tax credits for $125,000.
The building that formerly housed Poncho's Wreck Restaurant at 10 South Main Street will be rehabilitated for commercial retail use and office space. It has been vacant since 2009. According to a press release, this work will include extensive facade restoration work in keeping with the historic character of the building and the downtown. The project is expected to cost $407,250 and will receive $74,455 in tax credits. Along with the other properties previously mentioned, Lorista Holdings LLC and the Hermitage Realty Group LLC own this one.
Grinold is hopeful that with the new businesses in town, there will be more year-round jobs and more stabilization. By having extra rooms available, there will be more 1 percent local option tax revenue, he pointed out.
In addition to the commercial aspect of the program, Murphy said the housing aspect does some additional good for the town.
A press release stated that with all the redevelopment going on around the downtown, a dilapidated apartment at 9 East Main Street will be rehabilitated to provide housing for local residents. This is set to cost $24,905 with tax credits for $7,331.
Another property known as the Laterre House will provide affordable housing. The rehabilitation project will receive $76,796 in tax credits and is expected to cost $1,093,060. The property is located at 24 East Main Street and is owned by the Windham-Windsor Housing Trust.
"There's a lot of financing built into that project from various state sources," Murphy said. "This is just one more piece of the puzzle to get a project done."
Other Windham County projects approved for tax credits include the rehabilitation of a former warehouse at 6 Island Street in Bellows Falls; rehabilitation of the Brooks House in Brattleboro; rehabilitation of the Manley Building, a former auto dealership at 29 High Street in Brattleboro; and the Putney Community Center at 10 Christian Square.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.