Twenty-two projects in downtowns large and small across Vermont are receiving tax incentives that officials said made the projects financially possible and leveraged significant private investment.
Gov. Phil Scott announced $2.7 million in tax breaks Wednesday that will support more than $53 million in downtown and village center construction and rehabilitation.
The announcement was made at Montpelier City Hall, across the street from a Main Street building where an almost $300,000 tax credit will help finance construction of 18 apartments on upper floors that have been vacant since the 1940s.
The program has been in place since 2000. Scott said about $25 million in total tax credits has leveraged $400 million in private investment. Some of the money has been used for key infrastructure needs, including handicapped accessibility. The Legislature this year agreed to boost the yearly allocation to $2.4 million, from $2.2 million, and raised the maximum each project could receive to $500,000, from $300,000.
Officials involved with the projects from across the state said repeatedly the tax incentives provided the key to make the outside investment possible and that the projects may not have been done otherwise. They all spoke of the need for partnerships with the state and others as being an important component to finance their projects.
Scott said the tax incentive program creates jobs, but that the efforts had also helped revitalize downtowns, where he said many young people want to live.
Nearly 170 community centers are designated as downtown or village centers, allowing them to receive the state tax credits and state grants.
Fifty applications were received this year. Housing and Community Development Director Katie Buckley said the competition was “extremely fierce.”
“If you’re here,” she told the incentive recipients, “you’ve earned your place.”
The 22 projects cover 19 communities. They include the rehabilitation of the Bennington County Courthouse and repairs to a historic church in Johnson that burned and had housed artist studios as part of the Vermont Studio Center.
The biggest tax credit, almost $500,000, went to a second project in Bennington, rehabilitating the historic Winslow Block at a cost of $8.2 million. The smallest tax credit, $8,000, went to a project in Montgomery where a Main Street building will be repaired and restored.
Other project highlights include rehabilitation of the Quincy Hotel in Enosburg Falls, renovation of the upper floors in Brandon’s historic Smith Block, reopening of the Essex House in Island Pond, accessibility and safety improvements to the Guilford Center Grange Hall for use as a community space, renovation of the upper floors of the historic Gryphon Building in downtown Rutland, and multiple mixed-use projects in Brattleboro.
A full list of the recipients can be found at the Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s website.