UWRC Teams up with GMP to give away a new house…

On Monday, the city Board of Aldermen agreed to sell a home at 60 Cleveland Ave. for $1 to Green Mountain Power  under a plan that would see the utility and several partners demolish the house and build a new, energy-efficient home that would be given away to publicize Rutland.

The three-story, 2,000-square-foot house on about a quarter-acre came to the city through a tax sale.

Officials at Green Mountain Power came to the city in the fall with a tentative plan to redevelop the property and in December they asked to take the project to its next steps.

Brennan Duffy, executive director of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority, asked aldermen, on behalf of his board of directors, to approve the sale of the home for $1, which he called a “symbolic amount,” in return for the significant investment expected by GMP.

“Upon ownership, GMP, through a collaboration of partners pledging labor and materials, would demolish the existing structure and rebuild a three-bedroom farmhouse-style home with the latest energy technologies on the site,” Duffy wrote in a memo to the aldermen.

“Upon completion, the home would be given away to a new owner-occupant as part of a national contest which would focus on the attributes of Rutland City and build up the ongoing regional marketing initiative to attract and retain residents and workers to the Rutland region,” he added.

The memo notes the $1 purchase price would not reimburse the city for about $22,000 in back taxes but would allow a large investment in the property and the area of the city that has already been targeted for redevelopment.

Duffy wrote that if it wasn’t sold to GMP, the property was unlikely to attract the kind of investment GMP was offering and would likely remain undeveloped or even further deteriorate.

The aldermen embraced the idea quickly. Duffy’s presentation to the board took less than two minutes and while Steve Costello, a vice president for GMP, attended Monday’s meeting, he wasn’t asked any questions.

After the vote, Costello said GMP officials were pleased to be working with the United Way of Rutland County, Naylor and Breen Builders of Brandon and NBF Architects on the project. With those partners committed, another 11 local companies agree to provide goods, labor and services with a value of at least $10,000.

Another two dozen companies also pledged assistance including Rutland Regional Medical Center and the Housing Trust of Rutland County. Costello said it was the contributions of the companies that would make the project affordable.

“It’s investing in a way that hopefully will inspire others in the neighborhood,” he said.

Duffy added that it was “checking a lot of boxes,” including taking a multi-family house and returning it to single owner-occupancy.

Costello said this was the first project of its kind for GMP.

“We’ve done quite a few energy renovations in the neighborhood but never from the ground up like this,” he said. “We’re really excited about it. We think it’s going to be a great addition and as the community has already seen, when you start working on a couple of houses in the neighborhood, it can have a really positive impact, as it has on Baxter Street and that area.”

Costello declined to answer questions about the contest that would be used to give the home away, but said that information would be available in a few weeks.

He said the contest would be tied to the regional marketing “Real Rutland” campaign.

With approval from the Board of Aldermen, asbestos removal will begin within the next week or so, Costello said, with a goal of completion by early summer.

Asbestos and lead found in the existing home resulted in the decision to tear it down and replace it with new construction, according to GMP’s proposal to the RRA.

The aldermen approved the sale of the house to GMP unanimously of the members present, except for Melinda Humphrey, who abstained. Humphrey works for GMP.


GMP to buy house for $1, replace it, give it away