Smart Growth in Action: Downtown Tax Credit Program
Strong, vibrant downtowns have represented social and economic achievement in Vermont for generations. Maintaining the unique qualities that towns, villages, and rural landscapes have to offer is imperative to the future of the state. With this in mind, The Vermont Downtown Program was established in 1994 to provide technical assistance and training to communities and help them develop skills and strategies for their downtown revitalization efforts. The Program is an affiliate of the National Main Street Center, a division of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which has worked in over 1,400 communities nationwide revitalizing and redeveloping “Main Streets.”
Through the downtown and village center program, tax credits are available and have become a great incentive for municipalities and private owners. The funding aims to rejuvenate historic buildings and preserve the distinctive qualities of Vermont communities. Across the state, these downtown and village restoration projects continue to attract new businesses, produce more local jobs, and maintain the liveliness of communities. In past and current projects, these tax credits aim to establish new financial and social possibilities for communities.
The Pub in Wallingford is a great example of a successful Downtown Tax Credit revitalization project. The Pub is located in a picturesque historic building on downtown North Main Street, and was renovated by the owners. After the discovery of an original photograph, they worked to preserve the original state of the building.
The Downtown Program also helped the Town of Hardwick recover from a devastating fire that destroyed the Bemis Block, a prominent historic structure on Main Street. Housing Vermont and the Lamoille Housing Partnership took on the project and restored the building to include 14 affordable apartments and three commercial spaces on the ground level. The project received partial funding from the Downtown Tax Credit Program, which laid the groundwork for additional financial support from other agencies. Claire’s restaurant has especially provided an upbeat “gathering place” where people can come together to socialize and build community ties.