Developer seeks to convert former Brookside nursing home to apartments

Phil, who declined to give his last name, a painter from property management firm Ledgeworks, finishes his lunch before returning to work at the former Brookside Nursing Home building in Wilder, Vt., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023.

Phil, who declined to give his last name, a painter from property management firm Ledgeworks, finishes his lunch before returning to work at the former Brookside Nursing Home building in Wilder, Vt., on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023. "We're trying to bring the old girl back," he said of the building's neglected exterior. It has been vacant since closing in Nov. 2017, and was recently purchased by real estate company 12 Tremont Street, manageby by Tim Sidore. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

By PATRICK ADRIAN

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 05-19-2024 6:31 PM

WILDER — The town’s Planning Commission will consider a proposal to convert a vacant former nursing home in a residential neighborhood into 38 apartments.

Ledgeworks, a Lebanon-based real estate firm, is seeking to create 29 studio and nine one-bedroom apartments off Route 5 in the former Brookside nursing home at 1200 Christian St., which Mike Davidson of Ledgeworks purchased last August for $825,000.

The Planning Commission will discuss the project in a public hearing on Monday at 6 p.m. at Town Hall. The developers are requesting the Commission’s approval of a planned development in a resident zone where multi-family housing developments are a conditional use.

Brookside Nursing Home, a 67-bed facility on a nearly 4-acre parcel, closed in November 2017, shortly after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced it would stop making payments to Brookside due to deficiencies in patient care.

The proposed project will include a 52-space parking lot, a fenced-in dog park, a gazebo and access to a brook and small pond on the property.

Since acquiring Brookside, the developers have repainted the dormant, 50-year-old residential building and have cleared much of the overgrown vegetation from the grounds.

“A lot of our projects have been about repurposing existing buildings, turning unused, unloved spaces into desperately needed housing,” said Tim Sidore, chief operating officer of Ledgeworks, in a phone interview.

The company’s reclamation projects include the creation of 43 loft-style apartments in the former Lebanon Junior High School at 77 Bank Street and the opening of 36 studio apartments in the former College Cleaners plant at 241 South Main St. in White River Junction.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Redeveloping existing buildings is typically less expensive — about $250 per square foot — than constructing an entirely new building, which averages $400 a square foot, Sidore said.

Rents for 20% of the units will be affordable to tenants whose income is 80% or less than the household median in Windsor County — which is $80,400 a year for a family of four.

The market-rate rents will range between $1,000 to $1,800 a month, depending on the apartment size, which range from 240 to 500 square feet for studios and from 367 to 550 square feet for one-bedroom units. The workforce or affordable apartments will be priced in accordance with Vermont Housing Finance guidelines, Sidore said.

The apartments are primarily intended for single occupants, Sidore said. The anticipated tenants may include graduate students and employees in the trades or the services industry, as well as other professionals.

Neighbors have expressed concern about traffic safety on their residential streets, as well as the environmental impact on the existing brook.

“We strongly oppose the current proposed number of units and argue that the living density is not appropriate for our neighborhood of primarily single family homes,” states a letter submitted to the town by eight residents.

The residents also said they are worried about the additional traffic, noting the lack of a nearby public bus stop.

Based on traffic volumes at similarly sized Ledgeworks properties, the Brookside development is estimated to result in about 35 total vehicle trips a day — significantly less than the 87 trips a day average when Brookside was in operation, which included employees and delivery trucks, the developers said in their site plan application.

Ledgeworks also is looking to provide a “ride-share” option by housing an electric vehicle on the site that a tenant could rent when needed, such as to run errands, Sidore said.

The developers hope to begin the renovation “as soon as possible,” Sidore said. Construction is expected to take four to six months to complete, he said.

“We want this project to be a source of pride for the neighborhood and the town as a whole, (a building) that fits in with the surrounding homes and that is representative of our work (in the Upper Valley),” Sidore said.

In addition to a planned development permit, Ledgeworks will need town approval of the project’s site plan, which is a separate application process.

Patrick Adrian may be reached at padrian@vnews.com or 603-727-3216.