Putting it together: Property sales clearing way for Putnam project

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BENNINGTON — Several key property transfers recorded last month are helping clear a path for the planned $53 million Putnam Block redevelopment project, as well as possible future work at an adjacent historic structure.

Among deed transfers were five recorded at the town clerk's office on Sept. 18, reflecting transfers from entities controlled by the Greenberg family to the Bennington County Industrial Corp.

Those include transfer of the Hotel Putnam, the core building of the Putnam Block at the Four Corners intersection. It is part of a four-acre, six-building block that a consortium of community-oriented investors hopes to transform over the next few years through redevelopment of historic buildings and new structures.

Hotel Putnam Buildings, LLC, transferred the former hotel and the Old Courthouse/Pennysaver building, from 101-09 South St., to the BCIC for $517,461.

On the same date, Normsel Development, LLC, transferred to the BCIC the Winslow Block, at 335 Main St., for $492,219; the former Greenberg & Son hardware store property, at 321 Main St., for $252,420; the gas station/convenience store property, at 301 Main St., for $500,000, and property at 311 Main St., for $237,900.

The BCIC, as a nonprofit development corporation, is able to apply for certain grants to facilitate the the Putnam Block project, particularly in dealing with environmental cleanup or remediation issues. The intent is to transfer the properties to the consortium, the Bennington Redevelopment Group, LLC, as the multi-year project moves forward.

The Bennington Redevelopment Group plans a mixed-use development with residential units, restaurants, office and retail spaces. Members of the group include local companies, Southern Vermont College, Bennington College, financial institutions, individual investors and Southwestern Vermont Health Care.

Also transferred earlier in September was a controlling 70 percent interest in the former Drysdale department store building, which stands at 113-15 South St., adjacent the Old Courthouse/Pennysaver building, to Matteson Acres, LLC.

Applejack Drysdale, LLC, transferred the property for $425,000 on Sept. 1.

The building is operated as a condominium, with four individually owned housing units on the third floor, while the new owner controls the first and second floors and leases space to commercial tenants.

The building now houses Jay's Art Shop & Frame Gallery on the first floor and has Bennington County Regional Commission office space on the second, as well as the condominium units on the third floor.

Jon Hale, manager of Matteson Acres, LLC, has said he wanted to block any unattractive development of that historic structure that might follow in the wake of the Putnam Block project, and said he might consider changes to the Drysdale building in the future as the Putnam redevelopment plan takes shape.

The first phase of the Putnam project involves redevelopment of the former hotel, the Old Courthouse/Pennysaver Building and the Winslow Block, all historic structures. Work is expected to go to bid later this year, while a second phase is planned to go out to bid in the fall of 2018

Bill Colvin, assistant director of Bennington County Regional Commission, said Breadloaf Construction has been hired as construction manager for Phase 1 of the project. The firm will review the plans, prepare construction documents and provide a guaranteed not-to-exceed maximum price for Phase 1.

Breadloaf will hire all subcontractors except for environmental remediation contractors, which will be handled separately, Colvin said.

He added that project permitting is on track, with all but the stormwater discharge permit now approved.

Colvin said his estimate for a construction start is late December, or January 2018.

Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont and VTDigger.org. @BB_therrien on Twitter.

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