• Barre lands key state tax credits
     | October 09,2012

    Roughly $1.8 million in tax credits through a state downtown revitalization program will aid building projects. Additionally, $500,000 in tax credits will help several businesses recover losses from last year’s floods, ranging from a landmark theater in Brattleboro to a Waterbury funeral home that had no flood insurance.

    “By adding flood credits to target communities particularly affected by Irene,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday in a news release, “we have been able to contribute to the recovery of vital downtown businesses around the state, while promoting new growth and investment.”

    The vacant Blanchard Block, which is undergoing a $3 million makeover to turn it into retail and office space in Barre, is one of 30 projects statewide that will receive tax breaks for restoring buildings.

    The Blanchard Block project in Barre will receive nearly $300,000 in tax credits for a project that will proceed regardless of any additional help, said one of the project’s partners, Mark Nicholson. The governor held a ceremony Monday at his building to announce the recipients of the tax credits.

    The credits were awarded competitively. Nicholson said he and his partners kind of gambled on the award but were fairly confident about receiving the break.

    Full construction could begin around December, involving stripping floors and gutting several areas. Retail and commercial space is envisioned for the ground floor with open office space on the upper floors. There are currently no tenants, he said.

    Barre’s Ladder 1 Grill restaurant was also a recipient of the tax credits, which will help the owners develop further levels of the former city firehouse into an inn.

    Flood tax credits will also help the D.M. Miles building on North Main Street in Barre, where floodwaters ruined an elevator and electrical systems. Nearly $82,000 in credits will also help with façade improvements for the building’s commercial storefronts.

    In the southern end of the state, a high school will undergo a dramatic reinvention in Bennington and credits will help pay for the restoration of two Brattleboro landmark buildings.

    In Bennington, the vacant 40,000-square-foot Catamount school is reopening as an indoor soccer facility with dorms and business space.

    In Brattleboro, the Latchis Hotel & Theatre on Main Street was closed due to damage from Irene, and tax money is helping to pay for code upgrades and cleanup. The historic Brooks House, severely damaged by a fire in April 2011 and subsequently closed, will receive a $717,500 tax credit toward the $11.6 million project leading to its reopening.

    In Waterbury, Ed Steele’s three-story building at 46 S. Main St. used to be filled with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters workers. About 2 feet of water flooded the first floor, and he had no flood insurance, he said. A nearly $57,000 tax credit will help him recover some of the costs, he said.

    The building is still vacant on the second and third floors. He had almost lined up a Montpelier-based tenant for 75 percent of that space this fall, but the deal fell through, he said.

    A credit will also cover repairs made to an old elevator system.

    Waterbury’s Perkins-Parker Funeral Home and Cremation Service, a family-owned business founded in 1907, also had no flood insurance and more than $100,000 in repair costs. Owner Chris Palermo said his tax credit, just over $10,000, was significant.

    “They had to act quickly and they had to really do some fundamental repairs in order to get their businesses back up and running,” said Rep. Tom Stevens, a Waterbury Democrat. “So I’m glad that the state was able to (make) these awards, these credits, to help soften the blow.”

    A selection of other tax credits for this year included:

    Brandon: $50,000 to the Brandon Inn, established in 1786, to modernize the historic building’s elevator and comply with codes.

    Hardwick: $25,000 for code upgrades to a commercial block at 28 Mill St., which is home to Hardwick Hairport, Gagnon’s video store and eight apartments.

    Waterbury: $9,170 for 87 and 89 S. Main St.

    david.taube @timesargus.com

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