Congress and Main project approved

This rendering shows how the new buildings will fit in with the rest of Main Street. Images courtesy of Grant Butterfield, Nedde Real Estate

ST. ALBANS CITY — St. Albans City and developer Grant Butterfield of Nedde Real Estate have received approval to go forward from the Development Review Board (DRB) with plans for three new buildings in downtown St. Albans.

The first, a 25,000 square foot commercial building which will house the Community College of Vermont and offices for Northwestern Medical Center with space for four first level retail or food service businesses, has been given full design approval.

The design reduces the scale of the building with a recessed center area and variations in the design. The northern entrance to the building is angled toward the corner, but in response to feedback from the Design Advisory Board, the building has a uniform feel at street level.

The second, market rate housing on the corner of Maiden Land and Congress, also has full design approval.

However, the DRB has asked for some changes to the third building, which will be located on Maiden Lane. This building will be owned and operated by the Champlain Housing Trust (CHT) and provide affordable housing. The DRB ruled the city will need to come back with a revised design that visually reduces the scale of the building before proceeding with construction.

The DRB asked that the “massive color block sections” be broken up to reduce the perceived scale of the building and that colors be adjusted to reduce the contrast with the market rate apartment building.

All three buildings received major site plan approval.

However, the DRB did place some conditions on that approval. First, the board wants a proposed bump out for the center of Maiden Lane removed to maximize parking. Secondly, the city must provide a “lighted or otherwise prominently alerted” crosswalk at the corner of North Main and Congress streets, along with a lighting plan for all areas of the site. Finally, WB-67 trucks will not be allowed to use the Congress Street loading zone for the commercial building.

“This approval represents an important milestone and we are proud of the progress being made,” said Butterfield. “We remain grateful for the opportunity to be involved in such a transformative project for downtown with our partner the City of St. Albans.”

Dominic Cloud, the city manager, was also pleased with the decision. “We’ve taken the areas they flagged to heart,” he said, adding the city is eager to circle back to the DRB with the requested changes.

The DRB previously approved the demolition of four buildings to make room for the project. They are: 10 Maiden Lane, 8-10 Congress Street, 85 North Main Street and 87 North Main Street. A fifth building, 12 Congress Street, is being retained because of its historic value.

During construction, the residents of 10 Maiden Lane will be temporarily relocated by CHT.

The city has estimated the total value of the three-part project at $20 million.

“It is a rare opportunity to be involved in such a quality product,” Butterfield said. “The City of St Albans continues to ignite the downtown enabling the surrounding towns to benefit from their growth and vision.”

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Partial approval for Main Street building