Deal to sell some Vermont College of Fine Arts buildings falls through

Published: Jun. 26, 2023 at 5:47 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A deal to sell three buildings on the Vermont College of Fine Arts campus in Montpelier has fallen through.

After the school decided in February to stop hosting on-campus programs, selling its unused buildings became one of the top priorities.

“We’re low residency. So that means that the classes, there’s not really classes. The physical infrastructure was really more than we ever needed at any time that we were on this campus,” said Katie Gustafson, the vice president for finance and administration at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Although it looked like they had found the perfect buyer, the deal fell through.

We first reported back in March the college was moving forward with plans to sell the Gary Library, Martin Hall and the Crowley Center to several local business owners, who united for the sale under the name “150 Main Street.” The buyers had plans to convert the buildings into a health and wellness center, but school officials say financial issues forced the buyers to back out.

“I think that the buyers, as they sort of got deep into their due diligence, the economics just weren’t going to work for them,” Gustafson said.

Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser is disappointed but hopes the buildings can still be repurposed to serve the Montpelier community, maybe even as housing.

“Housing, of course, is a giant need in Montpelier and around the state. Certainly, some kind of educational use would be consistent with the historic use of that property. I think, you know, people with more creative minds in mind perhaps can come up with some interesting solutions,” Fraser said.

School officials say they’ve already received interest in the three buildings from other potential buyers and a second deal is in the works to sell two other buildings on campus. They say the new school of Montpelier signed an agreement to purchase Alumnx Hall and Bishop Hatch. That sale will likely be finalized later this year.

“They’ve been current tenants for years and years, and so the timing just worked out really well in terms of our new direction that they were in the place where they were ready to try to make that happen for themselves,” Gustafson said.

VCFA plans to use money from the sale of the buildings to create scholarships and fund faculty development programs.

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