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Burlington College doing more with property

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"It's a matter of these photographs give a sense of what it was like on the streets of Cuba," said Webster Miller, who just earned his master's degree at Burlington College.

Miller's photographs line the walls of a 19th century building that is now part of the college. He was selling his photos Thursday evening to help the school raise the $2 million it needs to fix up the space it purchased from the Catholic Diocese of Burlington in 2010.

"This space is going to make one of the most great inspiring work places and study educational spaces there is," Miller said.

Right now the unfinished building sits empty, but the school says it's not waiting for perfection before it's put to use.

"With us, if we raise the $2 million and we do the safety and code work, everyone in our community, students faculty, staff, would be quite happy occupying this building just the way you see it," said Burlington College President Christine Plunkett.

The college also announced it will share the historic space with the community.

Plunkett said, "We've decided to rather formally announce that we are intending to open the college as a community center for the North End. There's been a lot of activity in the North End in recent months and even over the last year, to begin to figure out how to make more of a community sense down in this part of Burlington."

She also says plans for resources like a cafe, office space and art studios are moving quickly. And that's just inside.

"The property itself is 32 acres" said Plunkett.

The college already uses it for weddings, community events and will even host two music festivals this summer.

They have also partnered with a developer who plans to build senior, affordable and market rate housing as well as single family homes on some of the land. Plunkett says that will help pay for additional efforts to bring new life to the old space.

She says, "It's a development project with Eric Farrell, and as those properties are built, the proceeds from the sale of them will either roll back into further property development or back to us."

The college says it hopes that the expansion will help increase enrollment. Right now they have around 250 students but hopes to eventually get as high as 750.

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