Vt. officials say office building sale would create new efficiencies

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Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 6:28 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A new effort to consolidate Vermont state government offices could mean the sale of a large office building in downtown Burlington.

The Scott administration is looking into selling the Cherry Street office building, which contains most of the offices for the Department of Health, among other departments. The proposal comes as state office buildings across Vermont are being used less as the state embraces new work-from-home and hybrid models.

“We are looking at how we can use space across the state efficiently and effectively. And when we look at 108 Cherry Street and we look at the Waterbury office complex, there is an opportunity to gain more efficiency,” said Vt. Agency of Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson, which also has some of its offices in Burlington.

If sold, health department offices will be moved to Waterbury, where most AHS offices are located. Samuelson says the move would promote greater collaboration between departments. “It allows them to come together in a conference space so they can have those water cooler conversations and generate a level of creativity and innovation that being siloed and separate, doesn’t necessarily facilitate,” she said.

The building is also where the Department for Children and Families’ district offices are located. The staff there helps people in Chittenden County apply for public services. Officials say they will maintain some offices in the Burlington area in the event of a sale. “Of the staff In the building -- about 80 to 90 of them -- provide direct client services to Vermonters in that location. So, our goal would be to continue to keep them in the Burlington area somewhere that’s accessible either by walking, biking, transit, or those kinds of things,” said BGS Commissioner Jennifer Fitch. She says the prime downtown location just steps from the Church Street Marketplace creates an opportunity for enhanced community development when it’s sold. “It’s a great location, prime location for mixed-use. So, maybe in the first floor, you have some retail. And then maybe you have some office space in the building, and maybe on the upper levels you have housing and apartments.”

The sale of the building requires legislative approval and state officials say it could be months before a decision gets made.

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