One of the grandest hotels of its day, New Avenue House opened to the public in 1898. It quickly became a cornerstone of the commercial center of downtown St. Johnsbury. It was rebuilt after the original building was destroyed by a fire in 1896. It was renovated into apartments years later but fell into disrepair over the years.
In the summer of 2018, Housing Vermont aimed to change the historic building’s destiny. With leadership from Senator Jane Kitchel, the Vermont legislature directed a $1.0 million grant to the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, and Housing Vermont purchased the building for $1,850,000 becoming the new owners of the old building.
All of the original plaster from the 1898 hotel contained asbestos and needed to be removed, so in January of 2020, Catamount Environmental began the $1.0M asbestos abatement work. The work was scheduled to take three months, but the construction site was shut down during the COVID-19 Executive Order. The work was restarted later that June.
After almost two years of design work, permitting and financing applications, Housing Vermont and its co-developer RuralEdge, closed on a construction loan with Citizen’s Bank for the $9M rehabilitation of what will be called New Avenue Apartments. Bread Loaf Construction aims to complete construction in August 2021.
The building will include 40 apartments and 8,100 square feet of renovated commercial space on the ground floor. Kingdom Development Company assembled a local investor group to acquire the street level commercial space at New Avenue. In keeping with Housing Vermont’s sustainability goals, the entire building will have highly energy efficient heating and cooling systems.
“The redevelopment of New Avenue – a fantastic and prominent, historic anchor building – represents the latest significant step in the revitalization of downtown St. Johnsbury,” said Patrick Shattuck, Executive Director of RuralEdge. “Both the housing and commercial spaces will contribute directly to St. J’s continued economic revitalization through increased property tax revenue, the provision of goods and services, and new affordable housing.”
In addition to beautiful and affordable homes, the ambitious project will bring over 100 construction jobs to downtown St. Johnsbury.
Kathy Beyer, the project’s lead developer for Housing Vermont agrees that New Avenue will be a catalyst for the community: “There is a renewal afoot in St. Johnsbury, even in these challenging times.”