DOWNTOWN: Hotel icing on city’s cake

Latest project caps $40M in investments

Michelle Monroe

By Michelle Monroe

Executive Editor

Just
The Facts

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ST. ALBANS CITY — Developer PeakCM unveiled its designs for an 84-room, $11 million hotel in downtown St. Albans City at a press conference Tuesday.

The five-story building also will have a small meeting space, an indoor pool and an exercise room, said Jeff Davis of PeakCM.

PeakCM will build and own the hotel, and American Resort Management, LLC (ARM) will manage the facility, explained Davis. The purchase and sale agreement for the land at 43 Lake St. requires a nationally branded hotel run on the site, specifically mentioning a Hampton Inn or hotel of similar quality.

PeakCM and ARM have worked together on projects at Jay Peak and Burke Mountain, said Davis.

David White of White + Burke, the city’s consultants on downtown renovations, said it is an extraordinary feat to bring a hotel of this caliber to a downtown. “Hotels these days mostly want to be out by the interstate,” he said.

As the Messenger reported a week ago in announcing particulars of the pending agreement, the city made the deal possible by assembling the real estate from three separate parcels. It also committed to cleaning up any pollution at the site, and then selling the property to the developer for $1, achievements that were reiterated yesterday by White.

“The city has committed to making up to a $1 million investment.” said White, with PeakCM committing to repaying the city. The funds are being taken from the $2.5 million the ReArch Company paid to acquire the site of the new state office building.

The $1 million the city is investing will be paid back. The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) is also providing some funding, as is New England Federal Credit Union, said Davis.

As part of the agreement with PeakCM, the hotel will be assessed at a minimum of $7 million and will lease 105 parking spaces in the municipal garage from the city.

The city is also getting “a very exciting element to the revitalization of downtown,” said White.

City manager Dominic Cloud reminded everyone that the downtown revitalization began with Jim Cameron’s restoration of the St. Albans House, an 1840s building located on Lake Street, and continued with Main Street improvements, the construction of the new Ace hardware store on Main Street and the downtown core project, which includes the construction of a new state office building, a new parking garage and now the hotel.

An expansion at Mylan Technologies, Inc., which purchased the former state office building for use in its operations, also was key to the project.

All told there has been close to $40 million in public and private investment in the city in recent years, said Cloud. Central to the city’s success has been the belief that “private investment will follow public investment.”

“It’s not an option not to change,” said Mayor Liz Gamache. “We need to be smart about how we change.”

Gamache attributed the city’s success to the partnerships it built with a number of businesses and the state as well as voters.

“We often hear a lot of complaining about what is,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin. “This is an example of how you take charge to build a vision of what should be.”

“It seems like I’m up here every three or four weeks cutting another ribbon,” he remarked. Shumlin was in St. Albans last month to do the same on the new state office building on Federal Street, which has the new parking garage directly behind it.

The city still needs voters to approve using $1.5 million remaining in unspent funds for the parking garage and new state office building for streetscape improvements on Lake Street, which the city agreed to do as part of the hotel project, and for brownfields cleanup at the hotel site.

If all goes well with permitting, PeakCM hopes to break ground in August and be open in August 2016. Otherwise, construction will being in April 2016 and would be completed in spring 2017.

  • Speak Easy

    This is so needed. I have a hard time as an event planner booking a professional meeting space which offers on-site catering and AV services in St. Albans.