Bennington Community to Collaborate on Downtown Project
A consortium of local business leaders, institutions and civic-minded investors are organizing to transform the block of historic buildings at the Four Corners of Bennington into a vibrant, mixed-use downtown space with offices, in-town living, restaurants and retail. Bennington Redevelopment Group LLC (BRG) has reached an agreement to acquire the buildings and approximately four acres of land that include the Putnam Hotel, the Old Courthouse/Pennysaver, the Winslow Building, Oldcastle Theatre, H. Greenberg and Son Hardware, and the Mobil Station. The group has a 90-day window to do environmental assessments, survey and title work before purchasing the property. They expect it will take 12 to 18 months to design and develop the project. Success will require support from the Town of Bennington, the State of Vermont and tenants who are willing to be a part of the transformation of downtown Bennington.
The project is being led by a group of community leaders from a range of institutions and interests, including The Bank of Bennington, Southwestern Vermont Health Care, Bennington College, Southern Vermont College, Global-Z International, Brian McKenna, Anthony and Jacqueline Marro, and a group of local professionals. BRG has partnered with M&S Development of Brattleboro to help develop financing and manage the project.
Discussing what led the to the formation of what has become the BRC, Bank of Bennington president Jim Brown said, “We first starting meeting a year ago because we had a shared understanding that Bennington was in decline and something needed to be done to reverse that. We also believed that it would take private investors with a civic mindset in order for this to be successful. It didn’t take long for us to see the redevelopment of the Putnam block as the transformative project that downtown and Bennington needed to change the story and create positive momentum.”
Partners Bob Stevens and Craig Miskovich of M&S Development were part of the team that successfully redeveloped the Brooks House in Brattleboro, which became an inspiration for downtown revitalization and a model for community-enabled development. This type of development combines community investment with a mix of federal tax credits and state support for financial incentives.