Daily Chronicle: Sustainable housing/bus stop of future in Montpelier costs $256K per unit

Editor’s note: This is part of the Affordable Housing Series.

By Guy Page

A new 30-unit Montpelier rental housing project built with private and government money cost $7.7 million — an average cost of $256,666 per unit. The building also includes a separately-funded, multi-million dollar mass transit center on the ground floor.

The Taylor Street Apartments feature 19 units available to people earning 60% or less than the area’s average median income (AMI). The other 11 units are available for people with 80-120% AMIs. They include six studio (avg. monthly rent $730, heat/water/electricity/trash included), 18 one-bedroom ($850, etc.), and six two-bedroom units ($1,140). About one-third of the units have been leased, developer and landlord Downstreet Housing & Community Development said Tuesday.

Guy Page/Vermont Daily Chronicle

Taylor Street Apartments in Montpelier, Vt.

Funding came from private, local, state and federal sources, including $2 million from the $37 million housing bond approved by Gov. Phil Scott in 2017, according to a February 2019 report to the Legislature by Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser.

The grand opening was held onsite Friday, Oct. 25. About 550 people attended. In her remarks to the crowd, Downstreet Executive Director Eileen Peltier said Montpelier and the rest of the state have seen growing homelessness, the Times-Argus reported. “The Taylor Street apartments and the French Block apartments on Main Street that opened in January are certainly part of the solution,” she said. “This is a big step forward to end homelessness.”

The French Block, across the street from City Hall, opened in January and cost $6.1 million for 19 units — $321,000/unit.

Taylor Apartments is a forerunner of climate-friendly, “sustainable” urban housing designed with alternative transportation in mind. As the Fraser report says, “the project reflects the growing trend in affordable housing towards transit-oriented development, and the bottom floor of the Taylor Street project will include Greyhound and Green Mountain Transit bus stops…Transit oriented projects like Taylor Street can help reduce the overall cost-burden for low income renters.” The newly-extended Montpelier bike path also runs past the building, enroute to downtown Montpelier and points east. The building is heated without fossil fuels. It’s part of the wood-chip burning district thermal heating system that also heats the State House and many state office buildings.

It’s true that many low-income Vermonters can’t afford both housing and cars. It’s also true that fossil-fuel free, transit-friendly urban housing is on the punch-list for climate-conscious lawmakers and land-use planners. It’s central to the Legislature’s ongoing revision of Act 250, Vermont’s land planning and use law. Building  a “demo” just a block from the State House, from which dozens of legislators commute Tuesday-Friday during the session, is a real advocacy bonus – intended or not.

According to an Oct. 31 Times Argus news report by Stephen Mills, these are the funding amounts and sources for both transportation and housing:

  • Federal Transit Administration grant – $1.9 million
  • Federal Highway Administration grant – $5.3 million
  • VT AOT Surface Transportation Program – $1.25 million
  • Environmental Restoration Program – $250,000
  • Estimated Sales Tax Reallocation – $138,000
  • City of Montpelier funds, bond, capital improvement $$ – $2.7 million
  • People’s United Bank, thru federal low-income housing tax credit program – over $4 million
  • Share of $37 million VT 2017 affordable housing bond approved by Phil Scott – $2 million

The sum of the figures above totals $17.54 million. However, it is uncertain whether this figure represents the actual total cost of the project. Downstreet confirmed Wednesday that the total cost of the housing development was $7.7 million.

This project has been in planning since the 1990’s, a former Montpelier City Councilor told VPR last year. Key federal funding was earmarked in 2003 by Sens. Pat Leahy and James Jeffords.

Not surprisingly for a project with many different funders and stakeholders, there have been delays, including a decision by Redstone, the original housing contractor, to pull out of the project. The site also underwent extensive PCB decontamination.

The project was built with quality of design, materials and workmanship in mind. Downstreet Real Estate Developer Alison Friedkin told VDC Tuesday: “There are a lot of factors that go into building multi-family affordable housing and drive up the construction cost. We build highly energy-efficient, desirable, healthy, and safe housing. There is a cost to each of these factors. Our projects are competitively bid by contractors so we are paying market prices for labor and materials.”

Downstreet, formerly the Central Vermont Land Trust, has completed six similar affordable housing projects throughout Vermont since 2015 and manages many more.

See more of Guy Page’s reports at the Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Image courtesy of Guy Page/Vermont Daily Chronicle

11 thoughts on “Daily Chronicle: Sustainable housing/bus stop of future in Montpelier costs $256K per unit

  1. “Funding came from private, local, state and federal sources, including $2 million from the $37 million housing bond approved by Gov. Phil Scott in 2017, according to a February 2019 report to the Legislature by Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser.”

    How come the private, local state and federal amounts are not stated.

    They must be RECORDED SOMEWHERE.

    ALMOST ALL these amounts came from TAXPAYERS.
    Very little was private.
    Who will own the building?
    Who will manage it and collect the “rent” for a fat fee?
    A well-connected real estate magnate in Burlington, etc.
    It all stinks to high heaven

    • Addition:
      This is the type of socialism Bernie Sanders dreams about all his life.

      In Vermont, with a near-zero, real-growth economy, carbon tax revenues would be used to create even more government programs for more social engineering purposes, to create beneficiaries who will vote for the program creators. It is a form of socialism. Here is what Putin has to say about socialism:
      Putin warned the Obama administration against further adoption of socialism, saying Russian history clearly proves it is a recipe for failure.
      “Any fourth grade history student knows socialism has failed in every country, at every time in history,” said Putin. “President Obama and his fellow Democrats are either idiots or deliberately trying to destroy their own economy.”
      Economists say Putin’s comments serve to illustrate how worldwide markets have made even economic adversaries dependent on each other’s financial stability.
      Various spokes people, including democrat-socialist Sanders, dismissed Putin’s claim, saying, “We’re going to do socialism better.”
      Now that is pure hutzpah.

      • Bernie, the Socialist “champion of the working class” has a global warming fighting plan that costs $trillions and it is going to cost the working class a lot of money?
        What about airplane travel to and from lucrative political speech making?
        What about airplane travel to the Soviet Union to celebrate his honeymoon?
        Why does he have a $70,000 Audie and not an EV of a Prius Hybrid?
        Why does he have THREE houses?
        Bernie being a lying hypocrite to the nth degree.
        There is no place to hide.
        All is known.
        Here is a video of 1988 IN RUSSIA, BREAKFAST IN UNDERWEAR, WITH RUSSIANS, before the iron curtain came down.
        https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/video-of-shirtless-bernie-sanders-singing-in-the-soviet-union-in-1988-pushed-by-pro-beto-group

        Dem/Prog/Socialist climate change fighting = MORE government programs for the undeserving, tax-consuming poor.
        Bernie, the SOCIALIST freeloader, wants to give freebees to his supporters, paid for by his non-supporters.
        He is “on the attack” to implement:

        Open borders.
        Let all illegals in.
        No questions asked.
        We will sort it out at the voting booth after all are enrolled as card-carrying members of the Democrat Party
        Give each such illegal all bennies, plus a green card, plus citizenship ASAP.
        Free electric vehicles
        Free deep energy retrofits of their housing
        Free heat pumps, solar systems and batteries
        Free highly insulated/highly sealed housing
        Free healthcare
        Free education, including college, university
        Free energy
        Guaranteed annual income, no work requirements.

  2. Suggest the perpetrators of this lofty project revisit it in say 5 or 10 years from now and see how well the residents have cared for the building. One only has to look at Newark, NJ or St. Louis, MO. Unfortunately, there is nothing to see as the two low income projects to which I am referring have since been demolished because they were so obused and neglected they became uninhabitable. This is another feel good project squandering hard earned tax dollars that is doomed for failure. Oh well, on to the next fiasco.

  3. Are we citizens idiots, or are we crazy? In a political Coma?

    Is our myasma of Governments – just crazy, or is it worse?

    But to explain this, we must be both !!!!!!!!!!!

  4. These projects are an example of government corruption. My insurance claims it would take 250K to rebuild my house with 4 beds, 2 baths on 1/3 acre. Yet the same amount in a Mountstupid operation gets someone a one bedroom rental.

  5. I nearly fell over laughing at the suggestion that having apartments ranging from $730 to $1140 in rent is going to cure the homelessness problem. Are these people as braindead as they appear?!!! As a rule, homelessness is not a result of not having enough housing but people not having the funds to afford any housing available to them or those having issues other than financial such as drug and alcohol addictions. In Russia they once had a homelessness problem because most of the dwellings were destroyed by war, etc., hence the hastily built and rudimentary mega-apartment projects you see all over Russia. But is that really a problem in Montpelier?!!

  6. This housing is crippling Vermont and Vermonters.

    This housing is keeping people in generational poverty, it is a trap, literally. This must be what peanut butter looks like to mice, smells good, can’t resist the low rent!

    SNAP!

    Get a better job opportunity, you’ll have to pass, because you no longer qualify. Get a raise, well your rent goes up immediately with your income. Go to move out….can’t find anything to rent or own on the free market, because Vermont artificially keeps the rent high and ownership even higher. So what do you do? Keep working the job you have, stay in that same position your entire life. Ahhh good little worker, soviet style housing is always affordable, but you’ll never own, you’ll be trapped in your dead end job….

    Yes you’ll have nothing to pass down to your children. You’ll still have to pay rent after retirement, where if you owned a home, at $600 per month, you’d have no payments except the taxes and upkeep.

    Oh….I can sell you slope side luxury condominiums, that the wealthiest in the nation pay less money for than what our state is paying for these studio apartments!

    You can buy a really, really nice house in Barre for the price they are talking here! Hell you can buy the nicest 1950’s ranch, 3 bedroom all updated, 2-3x the size in Burlington for these prices.

    Vermont is really not making great investments with your tax money, just saying. And this goes on EVERYWHERE! Everywhere!

    These are the reasons why everyone feels the strain.

    This is also the great insider, cronyism, nepotism that permeates our small towns and saturates Montpelier. See cronyism is the first cousin to socialism. It’s all about being connected. If you’re connected you get the grants (free money! yeah right), you get the fat contracts, money is no object because for those in Montpelier, it’s FREE. See they think taxpayer money, taxpayer funded projects are all free.

    Affordability, School Funding, Drugs

    These are the three white elephants Montpelier is failing to address. Affordability many, many sub categories.

    We need to frame the conversation.

  7. Now we’re getting somewhere….

    how about Cost per square foot?

    Everybody gets all excited about this, and truth be told it’s a very nice building. This is soviet style housing, you will NEVER own anything you will ALWAYS be a tenant, ward of the state.

    THIS TYPE OF HOUSING CREATES GENERATIONAL POVERTY!!!!!!
    Championed by none- other than Bernie Sanders and adopted by so many in Vermont.

    The American style of home ownership consists of living in a modest home, OWNING the home, building equity, creating wealth. In years past they would homestead (which is now illegal in our state) by building a rough log cabin, then later a nicer stick frame house.

    You owned the house! You can own your own home for less than $600 per month, why wouldn’t’ you rather do that? Why wouldn’t people n government be promoting that/

    Look at how many people and corporations got huge tax credits and right offs. Look at how expensive this project is. Look at all the money our state pays in order to subsidize all the high rent!

    “Affordable” housing in Vermont, over the course of a couple of decades is a much, much, MUCH bigger scam than EB-5 EVER WAS!

    Rents are artificially high in Vermont because of projects exactly like this. Vermont here’s a main reason for your affordability problem and generation poverty…..it’s the actual trap you looking at. Just like a mouse sees free cheese and falls for it, Vermonters fall for the subsidized housing trap they can never get out of.

    • Ross Perot talking about the giant sucking sound of jobs going south with NAFTA,

      Well this and so many other “affordable” housing projects make the same sucking sound, except its sucking all your tax payer dollars…….shhhhhup!

      Instant generation poverty, enjoy!

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