BURLINGTON — The Champlain Housing Trust has signed a lease and will eventually buy the former St. Joseph School building in the Old North End, according to the real estate nonprofit.
The buyer intends to maintain the building’s current use by various organizations and explore additional options.
The lease signed this month is a stopgap measure while CHT puts together the financing for its purchase, which is expected to be finalized in June. Officials with St. Joseph Parish said the sale price will be “in excess of $2 million” and is based on a recent appraisal.
The parish ceased operating the school in 2010, and the historic Allen Street building has since become a community center of sorts, hosting the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, the VNA Family Room and the Robin’s Nest Children’s Center — which dates back to the building’s days as a school.
“We’ve put ourselves in the position of being a landlord, and we don’t want to be a landlord, we want to be a church,” said Dave Mount, with St. Joseph Parish.
With the property on the market, the current tenants approached Champlain Housing Trust, asking the nonprofit to step in and buy the property so it could remain their home, said Chris Donnelly, a spokesperson for the housing trust.
“Our goal is to keep the rents affordable for those folks there that provide great services,” Donnelly said.
In addition, Donnelly said Champlain Housing Trust is in talks with the Burlington Parks and Recreation Department about leasing space on the building’s second floor.
Donnelly said the housing trust is scheduling a community meeting for sometime in December to gather input from Old North End residents about what other possible uses they would like to see in that space.
The building has “great bones,” Donnelly said, but will need some work.
First, Champlain Housing Trust plans to put in a new elevator in January to make the building accessible to those with disabilities. Later on, the building will need improved wiring, heating and cooling, and possibly additional rehab, Donnelly said.
Once the elevator is in place, Donnelly said, he expects Parks and Recreation will move into space on the second floor in April or May.