Business & Economy

Entergy unloading Brattleboro properties

Entergy’s properties on Old Ferry Road in Brattleboro have been put up for sale. File photo by Mike Faher/VTDigger

BRATTLEBORO – Entergy is selling its Brattleboro properties, including a former office complex and training center that had supported the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant.

On one hand, it’s yet another sign of the end of the Vermont Yankee era. The structures were vacated this past spring, more than a year after the Vernon plant ceased producing power.

On the other hand, local officials view the sale as a chance to spur economic development. In all, more than 66,000 square feet of industrial building space is available on roughly 8 acres not far from Exit 3 of Interstate 91.

“Everyone involved is well aware of the potential for these buildings,” said Adam Grinold, executive director of Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. “We see it as a great opportunity and can’t wait to work with the new owner.”

Vermont Yankee shut down Dec. 29, 2014. While decommissioning is expected to take up to 60 years, big changes already have occurred.

Incremental staffing cuts have decreased Entergy’s local workforce from 625 in the summer of 2013 to just 136 in May of this year, when the latest layoffs happened.

Also, the plant’s regional footprint has shrunk dramatically with the federally approved elimination of a 10-mile emergency planning zone and other, internal emergency operations cutbacks.

Those changes have eliminated the need for Entergy’s Brattleboro properties, which are now being marketed through Burlington-based V/T Commercial Real Estate.

Entergy is offering the properties as a package deal, but there are three parcels: two on Old Ferry Road and one adjacent site on Glen Orne Drive. The land includes two buildings and a paved parking lot for 75 cars.

The office fronting on Old Ferry Road is a two-story building totaling 20,669 square feet. The structure on Glen Orne Drive is much larger, offering 45,904 square feet including 13,072 square feet of warehouse space.

In addition to Entergy’s offices, the complex formerly housed Vermont Yankee’s Joint Information Center, which was set up to distribute public information in case of an incident at the plant. Additionally, an elaborately outfitted training center had been located on site.

In preparing the property for sale, Entergy unloaded a large amount of office furniture, some of which went to area nonprofits and governmental organizations. One of the biggest modifications was getting rid of the training center’s simulator, which was sold to Xcel Energy Inc., a Minneapolis-based utility.

“The way we had configured it, (the simulator) was a replica of our control room,” Vermont Yankee spokesman Marty Cohn said. “Someone else could take the basic components and simulate other things.”

At this point, Cohn added, “it’s really a property that someone can move right into.”

The properties have been assessed by Brattleboro at a combined $4.5 million, but there is no asking price listed in V/T Commercial’s sales documents. Rather, the company is seeking offers by Oct. 28, with two property tours scheduled for Oct. 5 and Oct. 12.

“We did not put a price on it,” Cohn said. “We’ll see what the market will offer.”

As chairwoman of the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel, Kate O’Connor is well-versed in Vermont Yankee shutdown issues. From the perspective of her day job as Brattleboro Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, she’s hoping someone will capitalize on Entergy’s now-vacant properties.

“I hope that businesses looking to start up, relocate or expand will look at that unique space and see opportunity,” O’Connor said.

Grinold said Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. has been talking to Entergy about the company’s Brattleboro properties since early last year.

“It was on our radar right away. These conversations were just about trying to gain an understanding of their plans,” Grinold said. “They’ve been very open and collaborative in discussing their process. They’ve also been very receptive to our input.”

While not commenting on whether he’s heard of any interest in the properties, Grinold said he’s hoping the site can host “higher-paying jobs” rather than simply serving as warehouse space. He said BDCC stands ready to assist whoever might consider such a project.

While southern Vermont’s economic issues have been well-documented, Grinold believes the Windham region can be attractive for businesses, especially when the population numbers and other resources of the tri-state region are factored in.

“We have the population, the workforce and the existing businesses,” Grinold said. “We really can compete with Chittenden County in our ability to deliver a workforce and be a primary location for business relocation.”

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Mike Faher

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  • We now learn:

    “In all, more than 66,000 square feet of industrial building space is available on roughly 8 acres not far from Exit 3 of Interstate 91.”

    With this announcement, one cannot help but think of the similarities to Springfield, VT and all the industrial space that became available, and is still available, following the closing of the machine shops about 25 years ago.

    This is not good. This did not necessarily have to happen. It happened because of Peter Shumlin’s and many in the legislature choice to side with the anti-nuclear activists instead of the interests of the people in southern Vermont.

    This may not have happened if Mr. Shumlin had simply tried to find a way to make Vermont Yankee work. He didn’t. Instead, he elected to attack VY and sided with anti-nuclear orthodoxy and now there are 66,000 square feet of industrial building space available in town.

    Think Springfield and then remember Peter Shumlin and his impact on Vermont in six short years.

    • Bob Stannard

      As is the case nationally where every ill known to man is blamed on Obama (while of course, never giving him credit for anything) you continue to suggest that Entergy’s failures where the fault of Gov. Shumlin and/or activists. While it’s true the aforementioned may be happy to see this aged, leaking, polluter shut down, the cause of the shutdown was economic. Period. Entergy determined on its own that the amount of money they would need to invest into this plant was more than they were willing do. In the end it was nothing more than a business decision. All those ads they ran touting their dedicated employees was just bunk. They hid behind the workers. They were unwilling to sign a favorable contract with our utilities. When it became clear this plant was a loser they just closed it. The operative word is “THEY”; not Shumlin.

      • Bob:

        You may want to take your gripe over who’s responsible for the closing of VY to Montpelier insider and Shumlin supporter Kevin Ellis.

        In June 2015 when Shumlin announced that he would not run for re-election, Ellis had this to say on the vtdigger:

        “Peter has always been different than most politicians. He doesn’t need to be happy.……… remember that he closed Vt Yankee.”

        If you want Ellis’ full comment see:

        And of course there is the plenty of the pesky history available on Peter Shumlin’s jihad against VY readily available to support Kevin Ellis’ assertion.

        And in regard to the national stage, it was Mr. Obama who spent the first seven years of his presidency blaming George W. Bush for all man’s problems going back to Adam & Eve’s eviction from Eden.

        Looking at the world through a narrow pipe has many draw backs as your above comment readily demonstrates.

        • Bob Stannard

          Go back to the facts; not just what another lobbyist has to say. I, too, was a lobbyist who worked to close this failed plant. I could take credit for closing it, but the fact is that it was not economically viable. When it became clear to Entergy that this was the case they tossed their employees under the bus. You can point fingers anywhere you like, but it will net ever change the facts.