New office space will bring business to Barre - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New office space will bring business to Barre

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A new office space is set to open in Barre next month. This will mean an influx of state office workers and a welcome boost to Barre's downtown.

Workers are putting the final touches on City Place in Barre.

The four-story, 80,000 square foot mixed-use office building in the heart of downtown is set to open next month. It will house upwards of 400 workers. The largest group, with about 170 people, will be leased to the Vermont Agency of Education. The agency is merging its Montpelier and Berlin offices.

"It's huge for us all to be in one building," said Jill Remick of the Vt. Agency of Education. "It's a really good opportunity for us to clean house and work together and start fresh."

Other tenants will include the Agency of Human Services, Central Vermont Medical Center and the Rehab Gym. The $16 million project is at the center of a multi-year effort to revitalize the downtown.

"It came along at a time when people really felt Barre was down and out permanently. So it's an important step, because it's one people thought we could never do," said Barre City Mayor Thom Lauzon.

Lauzon is a CPA and real estate developer running unopposed for his fifth term. He says the project adds to a total of about 170,000 square feet of new and renovated space downtown in the last 18 months alone. Lauzon says it's an indication that his Barre Renaissance efforts are on track.

"I think what people are looking at... they're looking at our community, where we've got plenty of parking, we've got class A real estate office space, we've got reasonable housing prices, and I think people are reacting to that," said Lauzon.

From day one, supporters of the project had pushed to get a grocery store as an anchor tenant. The best prospect is a new co-op. But co-op officials say they are still fundraising and weren't ready to commit to the location.

"I think there was an opportunity that was missed there, and that's a disappointment," said the mayor.

Instead, half the storefront space will likely go to a still unnamed restaurant. The other 4,000 square foot frontage on Main Street is still up for grabs.

Businesses like the Quarry Grill and Tavern on Main Street are gearing up for the influx including hiring up to half a dozen new workers.

"I think it's going to mean a lot. New customers more business... A lot of new customers -- we're very excited about it," said Vicky Kelley from the Quarry Grill and Tavern.

Finding parking spaces for all these new workers is a top priority. The mayor says he'll be out in the streets opening day if he has to, helping people find spots personally.

The Agency of Education's official move in day is set for March 17.

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