Editor of the Reformer: On Monday afternoon (Jan. 11) the Windham & Windsor Housing Trust development team hosted a forum to share new designs for the Bellows Falls Garage and to solicit feedback from the community.
A diverse group of participants attended the forum including a possible future resident, direct abutters, downtown business owners, and interested town residents. The Housing Trust presented renderings of the new design and engaged in a rich discussion with the participants about various aspects of the project including parking, exterior details, community and commercial space and fresh air circulation. While this type of community outreach is not a requirement of the permitting process, The Housing Trust sees this as an important step and the engagement, local expertise, and interest from the community at the meeting was constructive and invaluable.
Within hours of the meeting, the architectural team had already rolled up their sleeves and worked on some ways to address some of the specific ideas and concerns that were presented at the meeting. These include looking for a way to reincorporate a small gathering space on the top floor for resident use, exploring how different exterior detailing could create more contrast on the eastern façade and considering a material options for the top floor cladding.
We’ve long been excited about the opportunity for new housing development is the beautiful village of Bellows Falls, particularly in the north end of the village. The redevelopment of the Bellows Falls Garage is a complicated and challenging endeavor, but despite the obstacles we’ve encountered, we remain committed and excited to bring this project to fruition. With this new design, we are preserving the original 1920 front façade (as opposed to recreating it), reducing the project’s carbon footprint with higher energy efficiency and maintaining the stunning views of Fall Mountain, the Connecticut River and the Canal.
We are grateful for the feedback from this vibrant community and thank the folks who attended the forum. Our mission drives us to create new homes within and for communities in ways that contribute to the vibrancy of neighborhoods and downtowns. The redevelopment of the Bellows Falls Garage is a project that meets all of these goals and we look forward to continued community conversation throughout the remainder of the project.
Elizabeth Bridgewater, Executive Director