ST. ALBANS — A small crowd gathered in the first snow of the winter to officially break ground on a new 25,000-square-foot building at the corner of Congress and Main streets Thursday afternoon.

“It’s a great project for St. Albans. It’s a great project for Franklin County,” said Mayor Tim Smith., speaking from the steps in front of city hall.

The three story building will become the new home of the Community College of Vermont (CCV) in St. Albans. Northwestern Medical Center (NMC) plans to relocate RiseVT and its Lifestyle Medicine Department to the new building.

In addition, both CCV and NMC will be partnering with Vermont Technical College on a nursing education program based in the building. The new building will also house laboratory space for both nursing students and NMC practitioners.

NMC CEO Jill Berry Bowen thanked the NMC board for supporting the move downtown. ‘It’s really about embracing this community,” said Bowen

Both RiseVT and Lifestyle Medicine are focused on helping people improve their health, and “helping folks live differently and learn differently for the betterment of this community,” said Bowen.

“This gives us a chance to help create what you all envisioned for downtown,” said Joyce Judy, President of CCV. The move from South Main Street will bring 450 students, plus faculty and staff into downtown St. Albans. Judy said she expects to see enrollment grow following the move.

“This brings us deeper into the community,” she said.

Developer Grant Butterfield of Nedde Real Estate is heading up the investors constructing the building. It was two years ago that he walked down Main Street with Judy and city manager Dominic Cloud looking for a new location for a possible downtown location for CCV, he said.

In his remarks Butterfield thanked not only CCV and NMC, but also the construction firm DEW, Cross Consulting Engineers, consultant David White of White + Burke, city staff Chip Sawyer and Marty Manahan, and Cloud. “I wouldn’t be standing here today and the project wouldn’t be happening without the help of city manager Dominic Cloud,” said Butterfield.

CCV will occupy the second floor of the building, NMC the third. The first floor will have four locations for retail or food businesses.

Accompanying the project are two new residential buildings, both facing Maiden Lane. One will contain market rate apartments and the other, to be owned by the Champlain Housing Trust, will provide low-income housing.

City voters previously approved $2.5 million in tax increment financing for the project, which will be used to address brownfields at the site and build a new parking lot, which the city will own and manage.