Boarded up and empty for two years, but now the Brooks House is coming back. "It's been a long year but we are really happy to be where we are," said Bob Stevens, one of a group of five local developers that secured leases for 75 percent of what will soon be the new Brooks House.
The space will include restaurants and offices, 23 apartments and satellite locations for the Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College. "Without the support of the Governor, without the support of the town, our local development corporations -- chambers -- we never would have pulled this off," Stevens said.
The Brooks house caught fire in April 2011. About a year ago the owners stopped redevelopment plans. The burned out historic building has been a blight on the town. "Now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel with the Brooks house, we can't wait," said Jerry Goldberg with the Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce.
Goldberg will be a resident of the new Brooks House, leasing an apartment once it's finished. "We've known people that had an impression that Brattleboro is a dying town -- and Brattleboro is anything but a dying town," he said.
"I can tell you that when you have a whole block that is dark at night and there aren't a lot of feet on the street, it makes downtown look sad," said Donna Simons, who has owned a furniture store on Main Street for about 40 years.
Simons added that it has also added a financial burden for downtown businesses. "Bringing all of our property values down, diminishing our town's grand list, therefore burdening all of us with having to pay more taxes," she said.
At the record store down the street, owner Byron Greatorex was concerned that the boarded up building was leading to a bad crowd and possible criminal activity. "You notice an immediate change with the dynamics of the downtown. Not just because there are empty store fronts or a derelict building, but who and what is hanging out in front of them," he said.
But in a year's time businesses, residents and a new crop of college kids will be coming and going -- contributing to the local economy. A $23 million project made possible -- in part -- from new market and historic tax credits.
"Having I don't know how many college kids spilling out for lunch on the downtown will be a big boon for the eateries especially, but for every place that has to hire an employee," Greatorexs said.
"I don't think that when the fire happened any of us could have imagined that it was going to be reinvented in this way," Donna Simons said.
The group plans to close on the sale at the end of April and construction will begin immediately. By May 2014, the building is expected to be back to life and better than ever before.
Friday, December 6 2013 11:16 PM EST2013-12-07 04:16:55 GMT
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over. The incident happened on Route 105 in Berkshire late Friday afternoon. AuthoritiesMore >>
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:03 PM EST2013-12-07 03:03:22 GMT
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank and there was no drive-through lane.The car jumped the curb in front of the Berkshire Bank Friday morning, taking out a railing and getting hung up on the front steps.More >>
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank -- and there was no drive-through lane. More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:01 PM EST2013-12-07 03:01:17 GMT
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.Cold Hollow in Waterbury is one of Vermont's top tourist attractions.More >>
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:00 PM EST2013-12-07 03:00:14 GMT
Police in Burlington say they've caught an armed robber.Investigators arrested Tyran Sprauve, 19, Friday afternoon for assault and robbery. Police say last month he and two other men broke into a homeMore >>
Police in Burlington say they've caught an armed robber.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 9:59 PM EST2013-12-07 02:59:17 GMT
A Claremont, New Hampshire couple is behind bars, charged with sexually assaulting two children under the age of five.Police say 25-year-old Kevin Blood and his 25-year-old wife, Ashley, were arrestedMore >>
A Claremont, New Hampshire couple is behind bars, charged with sexually assaulting two children under the age of five.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 9:40 PM EST2013-12-07 02:40:47 GMT
College students at St. Mike's have some strong words for Vermont's Senators. The groups of young people are part of a national organization known as the Student Global AIDS Campaign. Friday they marchedMore >>
Leahy spokesman says students mininformed on Senator's record.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 9:01 PM EST2013-12-07 02:01:01 GMT
In Burlington's Old North End there are still hints of what used to be -- a bustling Little Jerusalem years go. But one symbol of the area's past is not so obvious."It's priceless, it literally is oneMore >>
In Burlington's Old North End there are still hints of what used to be -- a bustling Little Jerusalem years go. But one symbol of the area's past is not so obvious.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 8:50 PM EST2013-12-07 01:50:18 GMT
It's that time of the week when almost everybody says TGIF. It's the first weekend in December and that has special meaning for Plattsburgh residents like Leigh Mundy, who loves spending time in the city.More >>
A tradition in the making for Plattsburgh -- it's called First Weekends. The idea is to have a special event in downtown Plattsburgh the first weekend of every month.More >>