$1.7 million in tax credits go to Vt. downtowns

BARRE, Vt. -- About $1.7 million in tax credits will support nearly $26 million in building improvements in downtowns and village centers in Vermont, Gov. Peter Shumlin said Monday.

This year $500,000 also went out in flood credits to help repair buildings damaging by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene last year.

The tax credits were awarded competitively by the Downtown Development Board to 30 projects in 17 communities. They include the reconstruction of the Brooks House in Brattleboro, which was damaged by fire last year and encouraging investment in the Blanchard Block in downtown Barre and Catamount High School in Bennington. The tax credits will also help efforts to rehabilitate 14 businesses in Barre, Quechee, St. Johnsbury, Waterbury and Wilmington that were damaged by flooding last year.

Most of the funding in the tax credit program supports code renovations like elevators and sprinkler systems that are too costly for many building owners. This year's flood credits provide help to those businesses still recovering.

"By adding flood credits to target communities particularly affected by Irene to the very successful state tax credit program, we have been able to contribute to the recovery of vital downtown businesses around the state, while promoting new growth and investment," Shumlin said.

Among other work will be turning space in the Lago Building in Newport into hotel rooms, supporting repairs to Simon Pearce in Quechee and assistance to help local efforts to rebuild and reopen Dot's restaurant in Wilmington.