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.
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:56 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:56:33 GMT
Flags were flying on the Statehouse steps Sunday afternoon as more than 500 people gathered for the Gun Owners of Vermont Rally."Vermonters -- not just hunting Vermonters who happen to have firearms forMore >>
A trio of gun control measures may have gotten the green light from Burlington voters on Town Meeting Day, but the charter changes face strong opposition across the state, and a possible uphill battle at the Statehouse.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:43 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:43:32 GMT
Is the marketing behind Electronic Cigarettes aimed at kids?New York Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) says the industry's trendy packaging and flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy aren't foolingMore >>
Schumer is co-sponsoring a Senate bill that would ban e-cigarette marketing aimed at kids.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:42 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:42:02 GMT
Senator Bernie Sanders is among a group of Senators set to hold an "all-nighter" to call attention to climate Change.Members of the so-called Senate Climate Action Task Force -- nearly two dozen in allMore >>
Senator Bernie Sanders is among a group of Senators set to hold an "all-nighter" to call attention to climate Change.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:40 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:40:46 GMT
A Chimney fire is the likely cause of a blaze that destroyed a home in St. Albans Town.The owner of the home on Pike Drive called for help a little after 9:30 a.m. Sunday. When firefighters arrived theyMore >>
A Chimney fire is the likely cause of a blaze that destroyed a home in St. Albans Town.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 7:38 PM EDT2014-03-09 23:38:52 GMT
Jazz fingers, dance moves -- and plenty of passion. The Urban Reach Dance Convention is giving aspiring dancers the chance to learn from some of the music industry's most acclaimed teachers, who have workedMore >>
Aspiring dancers hit the floor this weekend at the 8th annual Urban Reach Dance Convention.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 6:08 PM EDT2014-03-09 22:08:59 GMT
This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County. CCTA officials told us in a statement that after 19 hours of negotiations that went into the morningMore >>
Sunday morning CCTA officials announced that after a marathon negotiation session they delivered a complete contract proposal to the union.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 2:52 PM EDT2014-03-09 18:52:05 GMT
Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rhode Island over the weekend. His office says the Governor was at Brown University in Providence taking part in a forum with the Rhode Island Governor. He is expected toMore >>
Governor Peter Shumlin was in Rhode Island over the weekend.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 2:10 PM EDT2014-03-09 18:10:31 GMT
ANNOUNCER: FROM VERMONT'S MOST TRUSTED SOURCE, WCAX BRINGS YOU YOUR NEWSMAKERS, YOUR NEIGHBORS, THIS IS "YOU CAN QUOTE ME". >> HELLO, WELCOME TO "YOU CAN QUOTE ME", I'M KYLE MIDURA, TODAY WE TALK ABOUTMore >>
Stephen Dale, the executive director of the Vermont School Boards Association joins Kyle Midura to discuss education in Vermont.More >>