City and State officials celebrated a decision by the Vermont Economic Progress Council board (VEPC) to approve Montpelier’s application for a TIF district that includes the Capital City’s core downtown and Barre Street corridor. The VEPC board voted unanimously on August 30th to approve Montpelier’s application, opening the door for the City to focus on improving infrastructure to support and encourage private development, including affordable and market-priced housing, business development and expansion, and more.
In response to Montpelier’s TIF District approval Gov. Phil Scott stated, “Growing Vermont’s economy has been a top priority of my Administration, which is why I was proud to propose and see the passage of legislation to expand the TIF program last year. This bill allowed for six additional TIF districts in Vermont with the goal of spurring the type of private development in our downtowns that Montpelier’s district plan outlines. Making our downtowns a better place to live and work is a key to growing jobs and prosperity in Vermont. I am pleased to see that Montpelier’s TIF district has been approved by the VEPC Board.”
“This TIF will catalyze projects in Montpelier’s downtown and beyond,” said Mayor Anne Watson. “This will be a helpful tool for bringing new businesses into town and stimulating development, both of which are needed to maintain a healthy local economy. This puts us on a level playing field with other communities that have TIF districts already.”
“The VEPC Board was impressed with the thorough application that the City of Montpelier presented and was pleased to approve their District Plan,” said VEPC Board Chair Stephan Morse. “The plan focuses on important economic opportunities in the city’s designated growth area that would not move forward without the use of the TIF program.”
TIF, which refers to Tax Increment Financing, allows the City to bond for critical infrastructure projects like road improvements, parking, water and sewer extension and upgrades, and brownfield cleanup. That work enables private developers to construct projects that rely on that infrastructure.
The first project proposed under the TIF program is a 348-space City-owned public parking garage located adjacent to the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Conference Center on Main Street. If a TIF bond is approved by the City Council on Oct. 3 and Montpelier voters on Nov. 6, that garage would enable the Capitol Plaza owners to build and own a Hilton-family Hampton Inn and Suites at that site. The Hampton Inn would bring jobs, tourists and business to Montpelier.
As calculated under the TIF program, the bond would be repaid by the increased property value from the new hotel, as well as fees generated by the public garage – not by Montpelier property taxpayers. In addition, it is expected that other projects, including affordable housing being considered at Christ Church on Main Street, would benefit from the garage.
City Manager William Fraser noted that residents have been calling for additional downtown parking for decades. Creating a garage in the heart of the downtown would help address that demand and offer the potential in the future of revamping unneeded parking lots for other uses, such as green space or additional development.
Also being discussed as potential TIF projects are improvements to the Barre-Main Street intersection, brownfield cleanup at the Barre Street-area granite sheds, water and sewer improvements and extensions down Barre Street to serve potential housing at Sabins Pasture.
“Montpelier’s TIF district will strengthen the vitality of our City,” said Montpelier City Manager William Fraser. “We have needed projects that have been talked about for decades that can’t go forward without significant infrastructure work. Now we can move forward with some of that work, and enable economic development, affordable housing and other important projects to proceed.”