Snow Block apartment complex nearing completion

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BRATTLEBORO — The approximately 21,000-square-foot, five-story Snow Block on Flat Street is about 70 percent complete.

The $5.1 million construction project is within budget and "relatively on schedule" to be completed around October, said Peter Paggi, director of housing development for Windham & Windsor Housing Trust. He reported no major issues.

"We have a lot of interest in the apartments," he said Wednesday during a tour, expecting units in the building to be leased out by the end of the year.

Paggi said those who are interested in living in Snow Block can call the housing trust at 254-4604 to get a rental application. The building is named after the housing trust's founder and longtime executive director, Connie Snow, who retired at the end of 2017.

The first floor will include community space for the tenants. Paggi said a realtor is helping to find a commercial tenant to share the floor.

The upper floors will host apartments — six one-bedroom units, three two-bedroom units, and 14 "efficiency apartments," which will be smaller than the others. Each unit will have its own central air conditioning through a heat pump system.

Two apartments will be fully handicap accessible. Those who live in the "efficiency apartments" will get their own storage space downstairs.

Tenants will have access to a common laundry room. They will leave vehicles in the Flat Street parking area or the Brattleboro Transportation Center.

An electric traction elevator, an energy recovery ventilation system and a solar array on top of the building will help to make the building more energy efficient. These pieces of equipment are anticipated to help offset some of the utility costs.

Construction is happening with an eye toward sound mitigation between walls and floors. Paggi said complaints from older housing trust properties prompted his group to be mindful about the issue in new projects.

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Steve Rowe, project superintendent, said fire retardant wood used for the project is atypical for five-story buildings. He said special framing and timbers also were used.

Rowe works for ReArch Company of South Burlington, the group hired by the housing trust to manage construction at the site. Stevens & Associates of Brattleboro helped develop the building design.

Rowe estimates between 35 to 40 various tradespeople are on site each day. He expects a siding project to begin at the end of the month and last about two months. And a new sidewalk will meet the one ending in front of the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro.

Part of the reasoning behind the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board's Housing Revenue Bond, which pumped $1,538,000 into Snow Block, had to do with a recognition of the need for more rental units statewide. Paggi said the bond allows the housing trust to serve tenants of higher incomes than it normally can with this project.

The building can host five people with larger incomes, going as high as $61,900 for a single person. Tenants will pay between $440 to $866 a month including utilities.

Altogether, the total development is anticipated to cost $7.4 million. Other funding sources include an equity investment of $4,937,000 from People's United Bank through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program administered by the Vermont Housing Finance Agency; the United States Housing and Urban Development's HOME and National Housing Trust Fund programs administered by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board; Efficiency Vermont; NeighborWorks of America; and the Windham County Renewable Energy Program administered by the Windham Regional Commission.

Rowe said Snow Block's construction is being filmed using a time-lapse feature on a camera posted in an office next door.

"The progress video has been nice," said Paggi.

"There's a lot that goes on here in a week," said Rowe.

Paggi called ReArch "very safety conscientious" and "very professional in their operations."

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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