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Bennington Development Group Delays Downtown Property Deal

Howard Weiss-Tisman
The Bennington Redevelopment Group hopes to purchase the historic Putnam Hotel, along with five other buildings in the center of Bennnington.

An investment group in Bennington says it needs more time before finalizing a deal to purchase a major downtown property. In July, investors said they secured a 90-day purchase and sale agreement for the historic Putnam Hotel, and five other buildings in the center of Bennington.

Bennington County Regional Commission Assistant Director William Colvin says the current owner has now agreed to extend the purchase and sale agreement out another 90 days to allow the investors to complete their environmental work on the four acres of property, which includes a former gas station and hardware store.

"Downtown Bennington has had historic uses there for over 200 years and we need to understand exactly what the environmental situation looks like," Colvin says. "That's an expectation of future lenders. It's an expectation of other potential funding sources, that you have a handle on those things before you move  to close."

Colvin says the first phase of the environmental review only includes a paper trail of past use, and he says he expects property inspections to take place before any money changes hands.

The Bennington Redevelopment Group is made up of local investors, as well as nearby colleges and Southern Vermont Healthcare, which all say they're interested in renting out office space once the project is completed.

"I think it's a great example of a community trying to come together to promote its own interests," says Colvin. " In this particular case  we have  a consortium of the medical system, Bennington College, Southern Vermont College, the Bank of Bennington, and a number of local businesses and civic minded individuals  and investors who've come together to form the basis of this project and recognize that no body's coming in from the outside to revitalize downtown Bennington."

Investors hope the $20 million project can breathe life into Bennington's Four Corners, bringing market-rate apartments, restaurants and renovated offices to downtown.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state.
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