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Vt. Tax Credits  Boost Windsor Project

Windsor — An aging and significant Main Street landmark is getting new life thanks to the Vermont Development Board’s Downtown Program, which awards tax credits to developers for restoring historic buildings.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced the $2 million in tax credits last week to 31 projects in towns throughout Vermont that are part of the downtown program. The projects are expected to result in about $18 million in building improvements.

In the Upper Valley, the restoration of Heritage Hall in downtown Windsor, the old Post Office in White River Junction and the Chadwick brothers building in Randolph qualified for the credits.

Preservationists and real estate developers Jane Osgood and Ted Hilles are receiving $130,000 in Vermont income tax credits for the restoration of Heritage Hall, a 1917 building that was originally constructed as the recreation hall for National Acme Co. and later used as a Vermont National Guard armory. The building has been unoccupied for the last 10 years.

The tax credit will allow work on the 11,000-square-foot building to begin in October and be completed by next spring, creating space for small offices, businesses involved with new technology and for arts-oriented enterprises, Osgood said last week.

“The space on the top floor is two stories high. It’s lovely and interesting,” Osgood said, adding that community dances and big band concerts were held in the space during the 1920s and 1930s and that Rose Kennedy, the mother of President John F. Kennedy and matriarch of the Kennedy clan, was said to have danced there.

“With the tax credit we’ll be able to move forward with the project, which we wouldn’t have been able to do. It was critical for us,” she said.

The Heritage Hall work includes window replacement and masonry improvements on the facade. It also will remove deteriorated front steps and replace them with a new entrance that is fully accessible. There will be a new elevator and a sprinkler system, as well as new plumbing, heating and electrical systems. The work is projected to cost more than $500,000.

“Windsor is going through a process of revival, and this building is going to be a big part of that. The state’s downtown program is vital to (the revivalization) efforts across the state,” Osgood said.

The tax credits also gave a boost to the Center for Cartoon Studies’ restoration efforts in the 1934 Post Office building in downtown White River Junction.

The school is restoring the building for classrooms, the Schultz Library and space for conferences, exhibitions and events opened to the public, Michelle Ollie, the school’s president, said last week. Prior to the school’s purchase in 2011, the building had been sparsely occupied by a few rotating tenants.

The $10,255 in credits will help a great deal with the completion of the $220,661 restoration project, Ollie said.

In Randolph, building owner Del Thompson hopes to use the $30,236 in tax credits he’s received for exterior work on the Chadwick building at 10 Prince St. that houses his restaurant, Chadwick’s Steakhouse & Pub. The total restoration of the building is estimated to cost almost $260,000.

Before it became a restaurant, Vermont Castings got its start in the building, Thompson said last week.

“We really want dress up the outside. We’ve done a lot on the inside, but this will help us complete the work,” he said.

“This is really a good program. It’s doing a lot for downtown areas and saving historic building all over the state,” he said.

Warren Johnston can be reached at wjohnston@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.