Home News and Features Building Back After the Flood: New Apartments Planned for Old Spaces

Building Back After the Flood: New Apartments Planned for Old Spaces

The former Uncommon Market located at 1 School Street is slated to become ground floor apartments. Photo by Carla Occaso.
Montpelier could see two local business locations converted into three apartments in the near future, according to two change-of-use applications filed with the city of Montpelier at the end of October, possibly bringing at least some relief to an extremely tight housing market.

Applicants Hood and Ayer LLP, using architect Black River Designs, plan to convert the former Uncommon Market, at the corner of School and Elm streets, and the Hippie Chickpea space, at 41 Elm Street.

Additionally, building renovations are underway on the upper floors of 8–20 Langdon Street with an aim to create/renovate apartments as well.

Documents pertaining to the Uncommon Market property at 1 School Street deem this a “flood recovery project,” and cite project goals as including flood proofing, a new mechanical system between buildings, and raising the first floor by 18 inches. Additionally, the original historic facade will be retained and they will reuse the balcony. They also will insulate the building, including thermally improved windows and doors, according to the application.

The project description for 1 School Street states: “make the first floor, currently a commercial space that was the Uncommon Market, into two two-bedroom apartments.” And regarding flooding requirements: “Development shall be constructed with electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, and other services that are designed and/or located so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during conditions of flooding.”

The former Hippie Chickpea located at 41 Elm Street may soon become a ground floor apartment. Photo by Carla Occaso.
Hood and Ayer also filed a change-of-use application for the former Hippie Chickpea restaurant at 41 Elm Street. The application, stamped “Received” on Oct. 27, 2023, describes the project as one to “convert Hippy (sic) Chickpea space into a one bedroom apartment.” Further, the “replaced utilities will be located to five-feet, eight-inches above exterior grade.”

8–20 Langdon Street

The Bridge has also received information that the upper floors of 8 through 20 Langdon Street are being made into 20 apartments. The information came from two sources: an unnamed source with knowledge of the property, and Montpelier City Council member Tim Heney. Heney said, during the Nov. 15 regular city council meeting, that 20 apartments are being put in that location, and that “this is equivalent to the French Block. It is a significant project.”

The French Block apartment project was a renovation of the upper floors of 32 Main Street — the building that houses Aubuchon Hardware. This allowed project managers to put in apartments in a place that had been vacant for 80 years, according to downstreet.org. Renovations were completed in 2018, and tenants began moving in in 2019. 

The Montpelier Design Review Committee discussed window replacements in the residential units of 8–20 Langdon Street during its Oct. 2 meeting. According to minutes from that meeting, Lucky Boardman submitted the application as the owner/applicant. The committee accepted an alternative design to existing windows because of “financial constraints,” meeting minutes state. Boardman also sought to install new above-ground propane tanks with concrete tie-down pads to which he would add a screening to “create a visual buffer from the North Branch and from Hazen Place.”

The 8–20 Langdon Street block housed the shoe and apparel store ROAM, Langdon Street Tavern, and Onion River Outdoors, and was constructed by James R. Langdon in 1874, according to heneyrealtors.com.

History of the Buildings

Langdon was a prominent businessman, banker, and politician in Montpelier, according to “America’s Successful Men of Affairs: The United States At Large,” edited by Henry Hall and published by the New York Tribune in 1896. Langdon was, “a type of the best manhood of New England” because of his “incessant activity, strength of character and fertile intellect,” the section on Langdon asserts. His father passed on the family fortune to James, who increased it. Business pursuits included being a flour miller, merchant, and then bank owner as well as politics. James was also at one point the president of the Central Vermont Railroad with interests in the Barre granite industry, according to the book. 

The building known as 8- 20 Langdon Street is seeing some post flood renovations, which may lead to refurbished apartments on the upper floors. Photo by Carla Occaso.
History on the other buildings was more difficult to immediately uncover, but 41 Elm Street was built around 1850 (according to the National Registry of Historic Places). It once housed a blacksmith shop on the first floor and a wheelwright shop on the second floor until 1920, the registry document states. It then became a machine shop, followed, in 1945, by a restaurant. 

One School Street was built around 1885. In 1889, the building housed a restaurant, a grocer, and another store. Then, “over the next several decades, it housed a laundry, millinery shop, barber, printing shop, locksmith, picture framer, storage, and sporting goods,” also according to the National Registry of Historic Places.

Phone calls to Boardman, and Ayer and Hood, who are behind the 1 School Street and 41 Elm Street projects, were not immediately returned on Nov. 24.

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