Gov. Peter Shumlin has announced the allocation of $1.786 million in tax credits through the Downtown Program to support nearly $26 million in building improvements in downtowns and village centers across the state. This year, in addition to traditional credits which spur building investment and revitalization in Vermont's community centers, $500,000 in flood credits were allocated to help repair and rehabilitate buildings damaged by the flooding in 2011.
Competitively awarded by the Downtown Development Board, this year's tax credits went to 30 projects in 17 communities. Credits will support the reconstruction of the Brooks House in Brattleboro--severely damaged by fire in April 2011, promote new investments in the vacant and underused Blanchard Block in Barre, and Catamount High School in Bennington, as well as support the recovery of 14 flood-impacted businesses in Barre, Quechee, St. Johnsbury, Waterbury and Wilmington.
Other projects include the conversion of underutilized space of the Lago Building in Newport to hotel rooms to bring new vitality to the downtown, repairs to support the pottery and glass-blowing operations at Simon Pearce in Quechee, and assistance to aid local efforts to rebuild and re-open the doors of Dot's in Wilmington -- both devastated by Irene. A complete list of tax credit projects is below.
"The downtown tax credit program is a proven tool that stimulates much-needed local economic activity and job creation across Vermont," said Govern Shumlin. "By adding flood credits to target communities particularly affected by Irene to the very successful state tax credit program, we have been able to contribute to the recovery of vital downtown businesses around the state, while promoting new growth and investment."
The tax credit program is one of the benefits of Downtown and Village Center Designation and makes it possible to revitalize hard to finance projects in community centers across the state. Most of the funding supports state-mandated code retrofits like elevators and sprinklers systems that are cost prohibitive to many commercial building owners. This year's flood credits provide additional aid to downtown communities devastated by the spring floods and Irene.
Noelle Mackay, Commissioner of the Department of Economic, Housing, and Community Development and Chair of the Downtown Board, praised the program's dual-focus this year.
"Around Vermont we have seen inspiring stories of recovery in the wake of an unprecedented natural disaster," Mackay said. "The very deserving recipients of the 2012 flood credits have made a commitment to rebuilding in their local communities and investing in the vitality of our downtowns. Combined with the efforts of other great tax credit projects this program continues to meet the goal of promoting vibrant and sustainable communities."
Vermont's Downtown Program is an incentive and training program that helps maintain Vermont's compact development pattern by targeting state resources to promote the efficient use of land, infrastructure, and resources. Over 100 of Vermont's Downtowns and Village Centers are designated, and these communities receive priority for consideration for state funding, increased Act 250 thresholds, and tax credits to promote vital communities.
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