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Nearly 100 new apartments coming to South Burlington, most at affordable rates

Multi-story building under construction.
Carly Berlin
Vermont Public
Construction is almost finished at the Farmstead Lofts in South Burlington on December 12, 2023. The new apartments are slated to open in early 2024.

This story, by Report for America corps member Carly Berlin, was produced through a partnership between VTDigger and Vermont Public.

A pair of mixed-income apartment buildings are bringing nearly 100 new housing units to South Burlington, the majority at affordable rates.

The Brandywine and Farmstead Lofts, developed by Summit Properties, will boast a combined 94 apartments off of Kennedy Drive. Three-quarters of the new apartments will have income-restrictions below market rate, and 20 of those will be dedicated to people exiting homelessness.

At an opening ceremony for the apartments on Tuesday, funders and local leaders noted the rarity of a new housing development of this scale – and the relative speed with which it came online. Initial conversations about the development began in 2021, and construction broke ground last fall.

“I’m so excited about the magnitude of what’s happening here today. This is incredible to open this many units, all on time and on budget,” said Maura Collins, executive director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency, which provided some funding for the project. “I mean, this hasn’t been happening lately in my world.”

After around a year of construction, the Brandywine building opened last month and is now fully leased. The mirror-image Farmstead Lofts next door is slated to open in early 2024.

The new development opens its doors as Vermont faces an acute housing shortage, and as many residents struggle to find homes they can afford. Meanwhile, high interest rates and construction costs have slowed the pace of development for some builders.

Front of building with Christmas wreath and bench.
Carly Berlin
Vermont Public
Brandywine Lofts in South Burlington on December 12, 2023.

The units will put a significant dent in Chittenden County’s goals to build more homes. In 2022, the county gained about 600 new homes and apartments, 110 of which are permanently affordable, according to data collected by the county’s regional planning commission. Those tallies fell far short of a goal set by local leaders to build 1,000 new units of housing — a quarter at affordable rates — annually for five years.

The Brandywine and Farmstead Lofts are located near a bus line and have underground parking and covered bike storage. The buildings have all-electric heating and cooling, and exceed Efficiency Vermont’s building standards for new multifamily construction, developers said. Supportive services for tenants facing housing insecurity will be available onsite, through Ascend Housing Allies.

The buildings have two-bedroom, one-bedroom, and studio apartments. Market-rate two-bedrooms rent for $2000 to $2200 a month, utilities included, said Tom Getz, CEO of Summit Properties. One-bedrooms rent for around $1800, while studios go for about $1500, he said.

But many units will be priced at lower rates. Some will be set at rents affordable for households making 60% of Area Median Income; some at 50% of AMI, and some at 30%. The median income for a two-person household in Chittenden County is $90,900.

Twenty units will have project-based vouchers through the Burlington Housing Authority, meaning rent will be capped at 30-40% of tenants’ household income.

Development costs for the project totaled over $32 million, or about $345,000 per unit, Getz said. Funding came from federal tax credits administered by VHFA, federal grants allocated to the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board and the City of South Burlington, as well as a block grant from the state.

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Carly covers housing and infrastructure for Vermont Public and VTDigger and is a corps member with the national journalism nonprofit Report for America.
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