Business & Economy

Property sales clear path for $53M Putnam Block project

Putnam Block
The former Hotel Putnam building in Bennington is one of several that recently changed hands to help clear the way for the Putnam Block redevelopment. Photo by Holly Peczynski/Bennington Banner

BENNINGTON — Several key property transfers recorded last month are helping clear the way for the planned $53 million Putnam Block redevelopment as well as possible future work at an adjacent historic structure.

Five transactions recorded at the town clerk’s office Sept. 18 reflect transfers from entities controlled by the Greenberg family to the Bennington County Industrial Corp.

Those include transfer of the Hotel Putnam, the core building of the Putnam Block at the Four Corners intersection. It is part of a 4-acre, six-building block that a consortium of community-oriented investors hopes to transform over the next few years through redevelopment of historic buildings and new structures.

Hotel Putnam Buildings LLC transferred the former hotel and the Old Courthouse/Pennysaver building to the BCIC for $517,461.

On the same date, Normsel Development LLC transferred to the BCIC the Winslow Block for $492,219; the former Greenberg & Son hardware store property for $252,420; the gas station/convenience store property at 301 Main St. for $500,000; and property at 311 Main St. for $237,900. The first two properties are also on Main Street.

Putnam Block
The Old Courthouse building in Bennington is one of the structures sold recently as part of the Putnam Block project. Photo by Jim Therrien/VTDigger
The BCIC, as a nonprofit development corporation, is able to apply for certain grants to facilitate the Putnam Block project, particularly in dealing with environmental cleanup or remediation issues. The intent is to transfer the properties to the consortium, the Bennington Redevelopment Group LLC, as the multiyear project moves forward.

The Bennington Redevelopment Group envisions residential units, restaurants, offices and retail spaces. Members of the group include local companies, Southern Vermont College, Bennington College, financial institutions, individual investors and Southwestern Vermont Health Care.

Another transaction earlier in September involved the transfer of a 70 percent interest in the former Drysdale department store building on South Street to Matteson Acres LLC.

Applejack Drysdale LLC transferred the property for $425,000 on Sept. 1.

The building is operated as a condominium, with four individually owned housing units on the third floor, while the new owner controls the first and second floors and leases space to an art gallery and the Bennington County Regional Commission for offices.

Jon Hale, manager of Matteson Acres LLC, has said he wanted to block any unattractive development of that historic structure in the wake of the Putnam Block project. He has said he might consider changes to the Drysdale building in the future as the Putnam redevelopment plan takes shape.

The first phase of the Putnam project involves redevelopment of the former hotel, the Old Courthouse/Pennysaver building and the Winslow Block, all historic structures. Work is expected to go to bid later this year, while a second phase is planned to go to bid in the fall of 2018.

Bill Colvin, assistant director of the Bennington County Regional Commission, said Breadloaf Construction has been hired as construction manager for phase one of the project. The firm will review the plans, prepare construction documents and provide a guaranteed maximum price for the first phase.

Breadloaf will hire all subcontractors except for environmental remediation contractors, which will be handled separately, Colvin said.

He added that the permit process is on track, with all but the stormwater discharge permit now approved.

Colvin said his estimate for a construction start is late December or January.

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