Vermont announces $2.22 million for 6 community development projects

New homes are being built at Hillside in the O’Brien Farm development in South Burlington in 2020. The largest project awarded was a $1 million grant to develop mixed-income apartments in the Hillside development. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

The state on Thursday announced $2.22 million in Community Development Block Grants, federal funds that will go to six projects in Vermont.

Three of the six are mixed-income developments.

“The Community Development Block Grant program is a vital resource for Vermont, supporting important projects that benefit Vermonters and their communities,” Governor Phil Scott said in a news release. “Bringing together public and private partners, the program is making a big difference to our redevelopment and revitalization efforts in every corner of the state.”

The biggest project is in South Burlington. The city government, in partnership with Ascend Housing Allies, has received $1 million to develop 94 mixed-income apartment units in two 47-unit buildings in the Hillside development of the O’Brien Farm community.

“This is where we see an opportunity for growth,” South Burlington Councilman Matt Cota told VTDigger. “It’s really important to make it affordable all the time. We’ve had phenomenal growth there and there’s more to come. It’s a good thing for our city because we need more housing and we need a diverse mix of housing.

The city council has been divided over where to develop housing in South Burlington, weighing concerns over the preservation of natural lands.

Of the 94 units, 71 will be permanently affordable and 23 will be rented at market price, said Thomas Getz Jr., CEO of Summit Properties, which is developing the property with Ascend Housing Allies. Affordable housing will be available to people earning less than 60% of median income, Getz told VTDigger. Twenty of the affordable units will be reserved for people who are homeless and at risk, and support services will be available, he said.

Getz said Summit plans to break ground this fall and complete the project by 2024. He said the two buildings will cost a total of $29 million.

“It’s the biggest development we’ve done at any given time,” Getz said.

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, and Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development are together providing nearly $20 million in funding for the project, Getz said.

Community Development Block Grants provide federal funds to communities for projects that help low- and middle-income residents. The Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development provides funding three times a year and typically allocates between $7 million and $10 million to projects, Housing and Community Development Commissioner Josh Hanford told VTDigger.

Other grants include:

  • $850,000 to the Randolph Area Community Development Corp. for the construction of 12 affordable housing units.
  • $250,000 to the Arlington Arts and Enrichment Program to renovate three vacant buildings on the property of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church into a community event space, community wellness center and center community Watkins House, which will be used for creative workshops, after-school programs, a celebration of Arlington’s history and culture, and a coworking space.
  • $60,000 to Pittsford Village Farm to conduct studies to renovate the farm and surrounding lands to provide programs to benefit the community.
  • $30,000 to Highgate to study the restoration of the historic Stinehour Hotel into a mixed-use building and develop plans to build a new library.
  • $30,000 to Friends of the Vergennes Opera Inc. for an elevator tower at the Vergennes Opera building, which also houses City Hall, to bring the building into line with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misrepresented the eligibility rules for an affordable apartment in the South Burlington project.

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