Work starts on Brattleboro senior housing project


BRATTLEBORO -- Work is under way at one of Brattleboro's largest private residential developments in recent memory.

John and Lori Brunelle, who hope to build up to 35 single-family homes on 12 acres of land in North Brattleboro, have received all of their permits, and heavy machinery was on the site this week moving trees, grading roads and preparing for the construction.

The Brunelles are developing Black Mountain Estates, a development of senior rental homes off of Black Mountain Road.

The development will include a community room and green space, walkways and benches, and private backyards for each unit.

"We have every permit we need to complete the project," John Brunelle said. "It feels great. It feels like it's really going to happen. Everything's in place. We're set now to finish the whole infrastructure, pave the road and get four houses in and start getting them rented."

The Brunelles received their Act 250 permit in late September and have also received local permits as well as approval from the Vermont Department of Public Safety.

Brunelle said the foundations for the first four homes will be poured this month, and he expects the first model homes to be available for inspection by the first of the year.

The first three or four units should be available to rent before the spring time.

"The community part of it is going to be a big thing," Brunelle said. "I think a lot of friends are lonely and having friends that you can see, or not, or going to the community center and having coffee with two or three neighbors if going to be a big part of what we have. I think that going to be the biggest thing people come here for. I really think that's going to pull people in."

Black Mountain Estates is a retirement, rental community.

Brunelle hopes to eventually have 35-or-so two-bedroom homes, each with a car port and front porch.

The standard 1,400 square foot homes will rent for $1,850 a month.

If Brunelle can build one home a month, he expects to be working on the project for at least two-and-a-half years, and he says he will rent out the units as they are constructed.

Brunelle thinks there is a call for senior rental homes with baby boomers aging

"I can see where there's a big need," Brunelle said. "There's nothing available for senior housing that's on the upscale. There's nothing available in the area so I thought there would be a big need for it."

Brunelle runs his own construction company, which he says is going to make it more economically feasible to pull off.

The project will include moving about 140,000 yards of fill around the site, installing all of the infrastructure and building all the roads, yards and public space in the development.

"It's a big job but we're so experienced. It seems to be an easy job to me. It's not overwhelming at all," he said. "The permitting was almost enjoyable. We've been working on this for a year and nine months. I see no problems to it. I can't imagine it not working. We're ready to go."

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext. 279 or Follow Howard on Twitter @HowardReformer.


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