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Castleton Expands Its Rutland Footprint With New Student Housing

Castleton University’s footprint in Rutland will grow even larger in August. That’s when the university plans to open new student housing in a historic downtown building. College and city officials say it’s the latest effort to build closer ties.

On the busy corner of West Street and Merchant’s Row, workers use crowbars to strip 19th-century wood framing from the upper two floors of the Clement Building.

“We’re taking off 120-year-old lath and plaster to get to the brick, which is the exterior of the building,” says property owner Mark Foley Jr. “That will allow to us to put in insulating factors and other things that will make this building one of the most energy efficient in the community.” 

Foley has been working closely with officials at Castleton University to create one-, two-, three-and four-bedroom apartments for 40 upper-level undergraduate and graduate level students. 

The space is gutted and dusty right now, says Foley, but there's potential.

“It’s incredible,” he says. “Fourteen-foot ceilings on the third floor, 12-foot on the second floor. It’s got all sorts of flexibility with the floor plan. Gorgeous high windows, so there’s going to be a ton of natural light in here. It’s just going to be a beautiful space."

Foley will maintain ownership of the building and lease the space to Castleton.  He estimates the 12,000-square-foot renovation will cost about $1 million. But he calls it money well spent as he believes it may push other developers to take a fresh look at using the upper floors of the city’s historic downtown buildings.

Credit Nina Keck / VPR
Rutland real estate developer Mark Foley Jr. stands on the third floor of the historic Clement Building, where he is creating apartments for 40 upper-level Castleton University students.

The new student housing is just the most recent part of an ongoing plan to expand the university’s ties with Rutland, according to Jeff Weld, a university spokesman.

“The vision for Rutland is that we have this unique synergy with economic development,” says Weld. "Our downtown center for entrepreneurship, over 400 community partners with them, internships, community service, student teaching, all that.”

Tom Donahue, executive director of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, says it’s a relationship that benefits everyone. "Castleton University’s involvement in Rutland is a tremendous opportunity," he says. "Not only by bringing in their staff and the resources of those staffs, but bringing these students right to our doorstep.”

"I'm really looking forward to seeing some of those folks in the cafe, sitting a spell and having a cuppa and doing their work here." - Speakeasy Cafe owner Bridget Scott

A few blocks away, the sound of laughter and the whir of a coffee grinder fills Speakeasy Café.

Owner Bridget Scott makes a latte for a customer and smiles at the thought of 40 college students living down the street.

“I’m very excited," she says. "I’m really looking forward to seeing some of those folks in the café, sitting a spell and having a cuppa and doing their work here.”

Scott says in the 12 years she’s lived in Rutland, the improvements she’s seen downtown have been dramatic.

“This is the next step in that evolution,” she adds, “and I couldn’t be more excited.” 

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