Purchase of university land to increase affordability in Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY – Middlebury College has purchased 35 acres of mostly open land to build 100 units of affordable housing within walking distance of the city centre.

Apartments, multi-family and single-family homes will be built by an independent developer and are not built for college employees.

City and college officials said the housing hike would help employers — current and future — by providing housing for their employees.

“The Selection Committee’s No. 1 priority after the end of the rail project is workforce housing,” said Middlebury Selection Committee Chairman Brian Carpenter. “We talked about it with the college – that and childcare. These are priorities #1 and #2.

The 35 acre plot is on Seminary Street Extension in Middlebury. It is east of the intersection of Seminary Street Extension with Washington Street, generally in the area of ​​Valley View Road – on the north side of Seminary Street Extension.

The college plans to sell it to Summit Properties.

“The college has no interest in long-term ownership of this property,” said David Provost, executive vice president of finance and administration at Middlebury.

The South Burlington developer will build 100 affordable, workforce-oriented housing units that can accommodate 250 to 350 people. A press release said Summit planned to sell some units and lease others. The estimated development cost is $40 million. The company expects to begin construction within eight months and to develop the property over the next five to six years.

Middlebury College had been looking around town for other properties to build workforce housing, Provost told the Independent.

“We liked this place because it was zoned high-density,” Provost said. “We are trying to meet a need of the city.

He acknowledged that while more housing would be good for the city as a whole, it would also be good for the college in the long run as it would boost the local economy.

“Having more growing businesses in town would be a good thing to attract high caliber employees who would bring in subsequent spouses who would want/need to work here as well,” Provost said.

Middlebury President Laurie Patton acknowledged in a press release the urgent need to increase housing availability in Addison County.

“Our faculty and staff know first-hand about housing scarcity, and we hear about these ongoing concerns from our human resources office, local businesses, and other nonprofits,” he said. she declared. “We saw an opportunity to help solve a problem that we all share. I am delighted that we can meet the needs of businesses and organizations in the city and county, who are our valued partners on so many levels.

The college purchased the property, which had been for sale for several years, from Marjorie Mooney for $1.5 million. Carpenter pointed out that others interested in using the large open land had considered buying it but couldn’t come to an agreement with Mooney. Provost believed she accepted this offer in part because of a connection to the college.

For their part, Summit Properties officials said they were delighted to take on the housing challenges in Middlebury.

“Summit has a long history of providing affordable housing across the state and region, including right here in Addison County, so we see the need every day,” said Summit Properties COO Zeke Davisson. , in a press release. “This collaboration has the potential to positively impact this community for generations.”

Each unit will have one to four bedrooms. The combination of housing types – apartments, multi-family houses and single-family houses – will be determined later.

Household income determines whether a family or individual is eligible for labor or affordable housing. The income range for workers’ housing residents — which in Addison County is about $50,000 to $80,000 for a two-person household — is higher than for affordable housing, which is lower. $50,000 for a two-person household. Summit plans to work with local housing partners and nonprofits on the project.

Elise Shanbacker of the Addison County Community Trust, which manages affordable housing, offered her organization’s services for the project.

Carpenter referred to the larger picture of economic development.

“It’s not just for college,” he said. “The city has been talking to two large companies that would also need housing for their employees.”

He acknowledged that these were manufacturing companies.

Provost said the college has been involved in those discussions. Middlebury College has land in the industrial park which could be useful for a new manufacturer.

“The college is open to giving away some of its land in the industrial park to make way for these businesses,” Provost said. He pointed out that these concerns would like the proximity of rail service.

THE BIG OLD HOUSE

The public’s initial reaction to last Friday’s announcement was a mix of excitement about the possibilities for economic development and concern about how a flood of hundreds of new residents could tax local resources. Some worried about increased traffic or increased demand for the city’s sewage treatment. Carpenter and Provost said these issues will be explored in the upcoming licensing process.

Some question whether schools can handle an influx of new children, others point out that schools have lost pupils and could welcome new ones.

In addition to new housing to be built on the land, the 35 acres include a nine-bedroom home at 51 Seminary Street Ext. which is on the edge of the property. The majestic old building, known to some as Stone Crop Ledge, is in need of renovations and repairs. College administrators are considering selling the home and are working with potential buyers to explore various uses for the structure.

“It will not be turned into dormitories or university housing,” Provost said.

He said the college is in talks with someone who has developed a number of old historic structures in college towns. This businessman repairs buildings, rents them out on a timeshare basis to families while their children are in school, and then resells them.

This is just one possibility for what will happen to Stone Crop Ledge, which is apparently 200 years old.

Regardless of that single house, city officials are excited about the possibility of building a hundred new homes nearby.

“This project will really support our local workforce,” Carpenter said. “I’m glad Middlebury College had the vision to see what was possible.”


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