State tax credits to help expand economic development opportunities

The Vermont Marble Museum has received $7,500 in state tax credits to use while pursuing a renovation project to create business incubator space inside the building. Photo submitted

By LEE J. KAHRS

PROCTOR — The Proctor Marble Museum has received valuable tax credits to help with planned renovations of the space and encourage economic development.

The museum was one of 30 projects in 27 Vermont communities to received part of $3.2 million in Downtown and Village Center tax credits, which Gov. Phil Scott announced last week.

Proctor was home to the Vermont Marble Company and its successor, OMYA, a calcium carbonate mining company, until 2007. When the OMYA headquarters relocated to Ohio the town lost hundreds of high-paying jobs. The Proctor Prosperity Plan was designed to strategize economic development opportunities going forward. The Vermont Marble Museum, with over 50,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space, is a critical par of the plan. The museum received $7,500 in tax credits for the planned $15,000 project.

Consultant Lawrence Miller has been working on behalf of The Preservation Trust, which now owns the museum building, and the Marble Museum Board. He said the state tax credits will support code-related upgrades in the space, including improvements to the water system, which will make more marketable space for future tenants.

With the museum currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller said it’s a good time to do the work.

“We’re looking at the building as an economic development opportunity more than a museum,” Miller said. “There is a lot of space that could be used as start-up space.”

The first tenant to take advantage of that space is Proctor’s own Liambru Tasty brewery, owned by Josh and Amy Ridlon. The couple has been brewing their craft beer in their garage for the last few years and will be moving into the Marble Museum space, operating a tasting room in the café space in the front of the building.

The Town of Proctor is also a tenant of the building this summer as a renovation of the Town Hall continues.

The tax credits will support a total of more than $160 million in downtown, village center and rehabilitation projects. This includes over $500,000 to support redevelopment of two properties in downtown Springfield: a former manufacturing facility that will be converted into multi-family housing, and the former Park Street School, which will be redeveloped into a multi-use facility with space for a business accelerator with co-working and private commercial space, studio apartments, and community use of the former gymnasium and 800-seat theater.

“I’m proud to see Vermont’s continued commitment to investing in their downtowns during these uncertain times,” Scott said. “It is a testament to our sense of community and entrepreneurship, and I’m pleased the state can support this work through this program. As we continue to weather the devastating economic impacts of this global pandemic and rebuild our economy, the downtown and village center tax credits will help local communities put themselves in the best position to thrive into the future.”

In Bellows Falls, a former parking garage will be converted into mixed-income workforce housing and in Rochester, the tax credits will support a new lodging business with both overnight accommodations and day-rate space for cross-country hikers and bikers. Other funded projects include conversion of the former Bridgewater School into a community center and childcare center, adaptive re-use of the former Skinner Library in Manchester, rehabilitation of the East Calais General Store, code-improvements at the Craftsbury General Store and installation of a sprinkler system at the Lantern Inn in Montgomery.

Miller said the Marble Museum is actively seeking additional tenants for the space once the work is complete. Form more information, email Lawrence Miller, lmiller@fivevineconsulting.com

For a complete list of the FY21 Downtown and Village Center tax credit recipients, please visit https://accd.vermont.gov/sites/accdnew/files/documents/HTC/CPR-FY2021HTCSummaries.pdf.