Vermont Business Magazine Lamoille Housing Partnership (LHP) was recently awarded a Community Supported Enterprise Grant from the Preservation Trust of Vermont (PTV) to support the ongoing preservation of Bemis Block, a historic Hardwick building owned in partnership between LHP and the affordable housing nonprofit’s development partner, Housing Vermont.
Photo: Bemis Block by Gary Hall Photography, courtesy of gbArchitecture.
The Community Supported Enterprise Grant “generously awarded to LHP from PTV will help fund substantial, critical renovations to the restaurant space located within Bemis Block,” says LHP Executive Director, Jim Lovinsky. The project is funded by PTV’s Community Supported Enterprise Grant. PTV’s Community Supported Enterprise Grant program is generously supported by the Northern Border Regional Commission, and aims to help support viable economic development and job creation efforts in communities across Vermont.
Following a devastating fire in 2005, Bemis Block was purchased by LHP and their development partner, Housing Vermont. The historic building’s renovation efforts by LHP and Housing Vermont created 14 subsidized apartments for older Vermonters, as well as three commercial spaces that anchor the property on downtown Hardwick’s Main Street. Since completion of the post-fire renovation efforts, Bemis Block’s commercial spaces have hosted several businesses, including an eight year stint by Claire’s Restaurant.
Claire’s Restaurant, a fixture of Hardwick’s downtown, provided a gathering space for the community with a menu that supported area food producers by featuring seasonal, local ingredients. Since Claire’s closed its doors though, several restaurants have made attempts to operate a new restaurant in the vacant space, but thus far none have seen long term success. Subsequent restaurants that occupied the space shared a similar challenge: the high cost of startup, including debt service as well as necessary, but costly upgrades to the space. With this challenge in mind, LHP and Housing Vermont have been working closely as general partners with The Scale House, the newest restaurant to occupy the space, to support the restaurant’s continued success in the space.
The Community Supported Enterprise Grant is essential to maintaining the value of Bemis Block’s commercial space for the future, by providing LHP with funds critical to making necessary interior space upgrades. Interior upgrades include a new kitchen floor that will facilitate easier clean up thereby improving sanitary conditions, and sound panels to improve acoustics in the dining area. The grant funds will also allow LHP and Housing Vermont to invest in critical equipment such as a kitchen exhaust hood and fire suppression system to meet current safety standards and code requirements.
The renovations will not only help the space’s current restaurant operator Sven Olson, but also “make it possible for future restaurant operators, should the need arise, to start with substantially lower up front and operating costs,” explains Lovinsky. “The success of a business in this valuable downtown Hardwick space is a priority for many community members, and the funding of important renovations will allow the restaurant operator to focus on running a successful business, maintaining jobs, and contributing to Hardwick’s economic and community vibrancy,” says Lovinsky.
Lamoille Housing Partnership develops, rehabilitates, and maintains safe, decent, energy efficient affordable housing through rental, home ownership, and other means to low and moderate income persons and families living within Lamoille County and the Town of Hardwick. Lamoille Housing Partnership provides such assistance without discrimination or prejudice, using a combination of private and public funding partnerships. Lamoille Housing Partnership is an IRS approved 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Learn more at www.lamoillehousing.org.
For additional information, please contact LHP Public Relations manager Kerrie Lohr, email@example.com.