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Thomas Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, left, sits with Kevin Dailey, vice president for Human Resources at SVMC, and Brian Lent, project sirector at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, right, as they discuss upcoming plans for development on the campus on Thursday, March 16, 2023.

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BENNINGTON — A developer experienced working with high-end properties intends to purchase the Everett Mansion and most of the former Southern Vermont College campus, planning to create a destination resort with 130 rooms and luxury amenities.

Principals with Alfred Weissman Real Estate talked about their plans at a news conference last Friday, along with Thomas Dee, president and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care, which acquired the 371-acre campus and buildings during a foreclosure auction in December 2020.

Alan Weissman, the company’s CEO, and Michael Cohen, the head of acquisitions for the Harrison, N.Y.-based firm, said they had no doubt they would make an offer for the property after learning the historic, 27-room Everett Mansion was the centerpiece.


Weissman said the firm intends to create a five-star rated luxury resort and redevelop the mansion and the other buildings on the former campus to provide visitor lodging, restaurants open to the public, spa facilities, tennis facilities, an events venue and other amenities.

In addition, they will consider alliances with tennis, golf or other recreation facilities in the area, such as golf courses, he said.

There will also be a focus on preserving, promoting and improving the hiking trails along the base of Mount Anthony near the mansion and on maintaining public access to the trail system, Weissman said.

The resort would expect to hire around 150 employees for a range of positions, he said, adding that the intent is to hire people living in the region.

He said the firm always gets closely involved with a community when it plans a project, which typically acts as a catalyst for other development.

“We’ve always been a catalyst,” Weissman said, “but that is already happening here.”

He added, “You don’t need a spark; you have a spark,” referring to ongoing redevelopment projects in the downtown.


Dee and other officials with the medical center’s parent corporation said earlier this week that the medical center’s parent corporation selected the developer after an 18-month search and evaluation process, conducted with the help of a consulting firm.

Weissman said that a purchase and sale agreement is in place and the details of the price and the overall cost of the redevelopment will be discussed once the proposal makes it through the state’s Act 250 review process.

He said he is confident that will happen following consultations with local officials and planners. He estimated that the project could reach the construction stage in approximately a year.

The developer is working with local architect Centerline Architects & Planners and with a Mexico City-based firm with international experience in hospitality development.


“This is a win-win,” Dee said about the proposal. “I think it will help the tax base, and I think it is something people will be happy about.”

He said the goal of the firm is to create a resort similar to the Equinox resort in Manchester.

Hiking trails on the former campus also will remain accessible to the public, which was an often voiced concern, Dee said, and a restaurant and other facilities created on the property are expected to be open to area residents as well.


SVHC also conducted a development feasibility study and sought input on what the public and area officials would like to see on the property.

Included in that process was a public survey that listed preservation of hiking trails along Mount Anthony near the historic mansion and use of the campus for hospitality purposes as top priorities for reuses of the property.

The survey results showed respondents “had a significant preference of 80 percent or greater to use the property for outdoor recreation, including public access to trails, and healthcare services,” SVHC reported.

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About 70 percent of respondents expressed an interest in seeing the mansion used as a lodging and special events venue while preserving its historic character.

Dee and Kevin Dailey, vice president of administration and chief human resources at SVHC, said Brian Lent, the campus reuse project director for the health group, worked with real estate consultants CBRE to locate a developer with the right expertise for such a project.

Dee said he would defer to the developer during the news conference on the amount the company has agreed to pay for the property and the overall estimated cost of the redevelopment project.

“But it will involve a major investment” utilizing capital from outside the area, he said.


The college campus was created during the 1970s on property that originally served as a summer residence for industrialist Edward Everett, who constructed a stone-walled, 27-room estate at the base of Mount Anthony and the Taconic Range.

The house was finished in 1914 and constructed in the style of an English country manor, using stone quarried in Pownal. The structure is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The original name of the estate was The Orchards, and Weissman said Friday they are considering that for the resort, and also the planting of fruit trees because large orchards were a feature of the property when the Everett family summered there.


Amid mounting debt and declining enrollment, the small liberal arts college closed in 2019. The property was later auctioned through proceedings at U.S. Bankruptcy Court-Vermont, with the health care corporation entering the high bid of $4.65 million in December 2020.

Officials said at the time that SVHC intended to work with the town, the state and others to encourage development on the property that would benefit the town and the economy of the area.

Lent said 5 to 6 acres around the former college baseball field off Monument Avenue will be excluded from the sale and retained by SVHC, which has an entrance drive to the medical center across from the field.

Dee said the parcel was considered for a proposed day care facility on the field site, but the high cost of new construction rendered that prohibitively expensive. The health care organization, which has a federal grant earmarked to expand the medical center’s day care program, is now looking at other sites on the hospital campus.


The town provided several levels of assistance to SVHC in the process, Dee said, including helping to maintain the property. SVHC also benefited from a community fund drive — called the “Grateful Bennington” effort, which raised more than $600,000 to defray expenses while a developer was sought.

“I want to express special thanks to the community for that,” he said.

The town also changed the zoning requirements on part of the former campus to allow tourism/hospitality development.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Bennington,” Town Manager Stuart Hurd said Thursday. “The plans for the campus are extraordinary, in my opinion. The trail systems are preserved. This site will continue to be a wonderful part of the community.”

Hurd said at the press conference on Friday that the redevelopment proposal represents “a great opportunity for Bennington,” and he praised SVHC for stepping in to purchase the campus property in 2020 to protect it from other types of development.

Dee said of the developers, “They want to make the town real partners in this,” adding, “We think it will continue to be the impetus in the transformation of Bennington and move us more toward a destination that people will be traveling to.”


The Vermont Land Trust also has been involved in discussions about the proposal, because the trust holds a conservation easement on more than 200 acres of the campus at the base of the mountain range. The organization has had a “very positive” response to the redevelopment proposal details, Lent said.

Donald Campbell, area project manager for the Land Trust, said Thursday, “SVHC has been an unbelievably responsive community partner. From the start, they have been committed to an outcome that promotes hikers and bikers using the trails on Mount Anthony.”

He added, “More than 200 acres of the former college is permanently conserved for public access and natural resource management. SVHC introduced Vermont Land Trust to the buyers and has helped both of us keep Bennington’s interests in the forefront.”

Jim Therrien can be reached at or by phone at 413-281-2646.