Home News and Features Proposed State Street Office Project Could Become Housing

Proposed State Street Office Project Could Become Housing

A three-story office building project that received city permits and was originally planned to be built at 105 State Street in Montpelier in 2020, and then delayed to 2021, is now on hold until next year and could be replaced with a plan to build 12 mid- to high-end market-rate apartment units, according to developer Thom Lauzon.

Delays in the office project over the past two years were caused by the pandemic and by construction and supply chain logistics that have been the “most challenging I’ve ever seen them,” said Lauzon, the former mayor of Barre and an accountant in that city. Costs have also risen but are now leveling off, he said.

The cancellation of the city’s plans for a parking garage — where Lauzon had asked to reserve 50 parking spaces for his office building — and the recent increase in the demand for housing of all types have caused Lauzon to reconsider the office plans. “We had looked at housing early on, but now with the incredible uptick in demand, it may make sense to consider housing again,” he said.

The housing option Lauzon is considering for 105 State Street, an empty lot where a Gulf gas station once stood, would involve two-bedroom apartments of about 1,200 square feet each, with ground-level parking underneath, probably limited to one car per unit, for a total of four stories. A common roof-top deck is a possibility. Lauzon said the apartments would be rental units, but “stand-alone” in terms of utilities, so the units could be sold individually as condominium units. “Our plan is to own them for the time being,” he said.

Both real estate and rental apartments in the area have seen already-tight demand soar ever since the start of the pandemic. At least two other potential apartment projects are also in the works in Montpelier, according to an Oct. 19 posting on Front Porch Forum by city Zoning Administrator Meredith Crandall, although permit applications have not been filed for either project.

One is a four-story, 42-unit apartment building that Burlington developer Rick Bove is considering for the portion of the Econolodge property on Northfield Street where the old Brown Derby restaurant once stood. The second project is an affordable housing project of a similar or larger size being considered by Central Vermont Habitat for Humanity for a large forested parcel off Northfield Street across from the Econolodge.

Lauzon said he is an optimist and expects to begin construction of either an office or apartment building on his State Street site in the spring, noting that “I don’t like having an empty lot in the middle of the state capital.” He said he will be studying the housing option over the next few months and will file for new permits from the city early next year if that is the direction he chooses to go.