The Champlain Housing Trust announced today that it has purchased the St. Joseph School on Allen Street in the Old North End from the St. Joseph Co-Cathedral Parish Charitable Trust for $2.15 million. The acquisition was made with plans to transform the building into a multi-purpose community center serving not only the residents of the neighborhood, but the rest of Burlington and greater region.
“This is a major milestone in our plans to create a home for so many critical programs serving such a diversity of people,” said Brenda Torpy, CEO of the Champlain Housing Trust. “We’re looking forward to the next phases of activity and renovation, to fully breathe new life into what will become a great community resource. We deeply appreciate working with both the Parish and Roman Catholic Diocese of Vermont in this transaction.”
To make the building accessible and serve immediate needs, CHT has already installed a new elevator and is putting in a commercial kitchen. Facilitating the purchase and these renovations was bridge financing from the Vermont Community Loan Fund ($2.3 million) and a charitable investment by the Vermont Community Foundation ($500,000).
The loan from the Vermont Community Loan Fund is the largest in its history.
“We are very excited to be underwriting CHT’s efforts to create a community center in Burlington’s Old North End,” said Will Belongia, Executive Director of the Loan Fund. “They have been such a strong and steady partner over the years, and the vision that they brought forward of creating a vibrant center made this an easy project to want to be involved with.”
“As we think about our mission, we know that projects like the purchase and renovation of the St. Joseph School is integral to the health and vitality of Vermont communities,” said Dan Smith, CEO and President of the Foundation. “This new community center will bring together thousands of Vermonters, young Vermonters and older ones, new citizens and longtime ones. We’re looking forward to seeing this building flourish in the coming years.”
An additional $7 million is being sought from a variety of sources as long term equity and financing, and for needed renovations including new heating and cooling, windows, electric and plumbing, technology and energy efficiency improvements.
Existing tenants – Robin’s Nest Children’s Center, Association of Africans Living in Vermont, and the Family Room – approached CHT two years ago when the school was put on the market. CHT agreed to look at purchasing and renovating the building, and the community center concept gelled when the City of Burlington’s Parks, Recreation and Waterfront Department expressed interest in renting a significant portion of the building. The BPRW Department has begun to move their programs into the building and will be subleasing space to other programs or organizations in addition to using it for their own offerings.
At this point, until the remaining resources are secured, further renovations are on hold. You can follow the project's progress on Twitter: @StJoesONE.