Downtown and village center tax credits are distributed to these construction projects through the agency of commerce and community development’s downtown and village center program. Because Wilmington has downtown designation through Wilmington Works, commercial and rental buildings built before 1983 within the perimeters of the downtown are eligible to apply for tax credits, which can be re-sold or used to offset the cost of construction. The seven projects in the downtown have a combined cost of over $4.4 million and include rental and commercial properties located on South, West, and East Main streets.
According to Wilmington Works executive director Adam Grinold, this round of credits is proof that having downtown designation is showing dividends. “It so happens that this year Wilmington is in a place where it has a lot of projects going on all at once,” said Grinold. “The funding for these downtown projects has gone up in recent years, and that’s because the state has recognized the value of downtowns for state growth, and that sprawl doesn’t always work. If you invest in downtown projects you increase the tax base, and the vitality. It’s a great tool for Vermont, and it’s proven to be a great tool for Wilmington.”
Tax credits have been awarded to construction projects on some of the downtown’s most notable buildings, as well as some eyesores. The dilapidated skeleton of what used to be Poncho’s Wreck at 10 South Main Street received $74,455 in credits to offset a rehabilitation project cost of $407,250, which will help turn the building into retail and office space. Lorista Holdings LLC, the company which purchased 10 South Main Street, will also benefit from these tax credits on two other projects: the renovation and re-establishment of the Vermont House as a 13-room hotel, and the renovation of 1 and 3 East Main Street, to create hotel and retail space.
The Vermont House project at 15 West Main Street totals an estimated $950,000 and received $78,235 in credits, while the East Main Street project will create 19 guest rooms, a coffee bar, and first floor retail space at a rehabilitation cost of $1,928,400. Tax credits will offset the cost by $125,000.
According to Nick Lombardi, managing member of Lorista Holdings, he and his Connecticut-based business partners were drawn to Wilmington through a common thread, while the development of the Hermitage Club worked as a catalyst. “We like certain qualities of the village in a historic sense,” said Lombardi. “We like the location as a main thoroughfare, the nice elements of village life, it’s walkable to shops and restaurants, and its close proximity to the reservoir and to both ski mountains. People pass through here year-round.”
Lombardi said he and his partners may resell the tax credits in order to help other business owners as well as reinvest in their own properties. Lombardi also said his company is currently focusing about 90% of its construction efforts on the Vermont House, and once finished, will decide whether to work on other properties separately or concurrently. Lorista is aiming for an optimistic spring 2015 completion date for all construction.
Along with these commercial properties, two rental properties will benefit from the credits including the seven-unit Latierre House at 24 East Main Street, owned by the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust. The building is currently undergoing a rehabilitation project with a price tag of nearly $1.1 million, and will receive $76,796 in credits.
Bob Grinold’s recently purchased property at 9 East Main Street will also receive more than $7,300 in credits, which can be used to offset a project cost of just under $25,000 to renovate the dilapidated building.
Wilmington Economic Development consultant Gretchen Havreluk played a key role in finding property owners to apply for the tax credits, a process she began while acting as Wilmington Works interim executive director before Grinold came on board.
Havreluk believes these tax credits will help complete projects that will ultimately lead to more jobs in the town of Wilmington. “I encouraged business owners to apply because they will be able to renovate and make these buildings look better,” said Havreluk. “All these commercial buildings are vacant and there were no jobs available in those buildings. This will create jobs in the downtown, and it will help the town prosper to have longer-term local jobs.”