Middlebury state offices to move to new buidling

MIDDLEBURY — State officials confirmed on Monday their plans to relocate the Vermont Agency of Human Services’ Addison County offices from their current home at 700 Exchange St. in Middlebury to a new two-story structure that will be built in the Middlebury South Village (MSV) development off Court Street.
“We have entered into an agreement with MSV,” said Jeff Lively, counsel to the Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services. “We have committed.”
The state is committing to a long-term lease in a new, two-story structure to be built on an 8,400-square-foot footprint on the 31-acre, mixed-use MSV property. The site has received permitting for a combination of office, retail and residential building lots. The property off Court Street south of Middlebury Union High School is already home to an apartment building, a Chittenden Bank and more than 15 single-family homes. Jeff Glassberg, managing owner of MSV, went before Middlebury’s Design Advisory Committee last week to showcase some revised plans for the new state office building.
“(The plans) received a positive recommendation,” Glassberg said on Monday.
Once completed next spring, the new 17,000-square-foot building will house state offices that for years have been based out of the J.P. Carrara building on Exchange Street. The relocating offices encompass roughly 65 state employees in the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, Vermont VocRehab (Reach Up) and the Office of Public Guardian.
Lively said the new structure will offer more space-appropriate, modern and energy-efficient accommodations for the state offices. He said the Court Street location should also provide greater visibility and convenient access for clients.
Lively said the state is currently paying $16.10 per square foot in the 17,563-square-foot building at 700 Exchange St., along with an additional $2.50 to $3 per square foot for janitorial services and supplies. He said the state will be paying a “full-service” rate of $26.50 per square foot for the 17,000 square feet in MSV.
State officials said they believe the more modern aspects of the new building — such as energy efficiency — justify the higher rent. The new structure, according to Glassberg, will maximize the use of natural light and will be highly insulated. Glassberg said MSV LLC was able to maximize its investment in “green” qualities for the new structure thanks to a 10-year lease the state agreed to sign for the space.
“We need the longer-term lease to justify (the many green features of the building),” Glassberg said.
Tentative plans call for an August groundbreaking for the new structure with occupancy anticipated between April and July of 2011, according to Lively.
Carrara recently extended the state’s expiring lease for 700 Exchange St. by one year, to cover July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, according to Carrara property Manager Bill Townsend.
“It’s been a great relationship,” he said of the state’s tenancy, which has spanned more than 20 years. Townsend said he was surprised the state did not accept the company’s proposal for a five-year lease extension at $13 per square foot (including utilities and excluding janitorial services).
Carrara has not yet begun marketing the space to other parties, but is prepared to do so, according to Townsend.
Meanwhile, Glassberg is pleased to see renewed activity at the MSV site after a period of inactivity that has hit so many construction projects during the tough economy.
“It’s good news after a long dry spell,” Glassberg said. “We will put quite a few people to work later this summer.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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