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Community Spotlight: The Vermont Downtown Program

The Vermont Downtown Program has provided numerous benefits to many of the state’s downtown and village centers. The establishment of the program and subsequent funding increase in 2010 to $1.8 million, has become paramount in importance both to local communities and the character of Vermont as a whole.

Several projects within Vermont have made use of the tax credits provided by the program. Winooski, Shelburne and Hardwick have all seen an increase in redevelopment projects and a rise in property value due to projects funded in part by the program. Some examples include, the 95 Main building in Brattleboro which saw a project investment of $466,816, tax credits in the form of $93,363 an an overall increase in list value of $309,740. 110 West Canal Street in Winooski completed a project with $1,890,000 in private investment, tax credits of $168,930 and an increased value in their list price of $1,498,800. The Shelburne Inn in Shelburne and 35 South Main, in Hardwick have both seen similar increases in private investment and list values due to the support of the tax credits.

Another advantage of the tax credits is an increase in tax revenue. Because the tax credit does not go into effect until a project is complete, revenue is collected from the purchase of construction materials, payroll and property taxes. Private investment also expands as a direct result of the program. Investors see the program as an incentive to invest in rundown buildings.

In addition to the benefits provided to downtowns and village centers, the program also has many positive impacts on the greater community. Jobs in the construction industry increase due to a demand for laborers to complete projects, as well as job creation in the tourism and business sectors. The revitalization of town centers also helps to build community engagement and support for local businesses by attracting visitors. From a smart growth perspective, the program also helps to preserve Vermont’s traditional settlement patterns by encouraging growth and new businesses to thrive in town, while leaving the remaining landscape open to quality farmland and natural areas.

Downtowns and Village centers play a key role in the economic and social fabric of communities across the state and without the Downtown Tax Credit Program, many of Vermont’s rural communities would be unable to entice private investment into the rehabilitation of industrial and historic buildings. Smart Growth Vermont and our legislative partner, Preservation Trust of Vermont, have advocated for the program and funding increases since its inception. To learn more about the benefits of the program and how your community can qualify, visit the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation.