Downtown project gains momentum

MIDDLEBURY — An ad hoc committee studying the feasibility of a major retail-commercial-residential project on town- and college-owned land behind Middlebury’s Ilsley Public Library will update the public on its work early next year.
At issue is an “Economic Development Initiative (EDI)” being crafted by the town and Middlebury College. It’s a project intended to complement the recently completed Cross Street Bridge and the new entrepreneurial opportunities the new downtown structure could present.
Tentative plans call for the EDI Committee to give a PowerPoint presentation to members of the Better Middlebury Partnership next month, then to the public at large in January.
Soon thereafter, townspeople might be asked to cast a key vote to advance the EDI. That’s because the college and town are considering forming a low-profit, limited liability company — known as an L3C — that allows a non-profit entity (in this case, the town) to partner with a for-profit entity (in this case, the college) to carry the project forward. It is a project that will need to attract a builder and considerable investment.
According to the Vermont Secretary of State’s website, Vermont is the first state to allow this new type of company. The L3C is a cross between a nonprofit organization and a for-profit corporation. The entity is designated as low-profit with charitable or educational goals.
Selectman Nick Artim is a member of the EDI Committee. He said the panel is putting together a presentation that will describe the history of the site; the economic opportunities that are envisioned for the site; and potential uses for the building or set of buildings that would be located in the site.
“The intent is to have this out for the public to view and to comment on and ultimately lead to growth on that site,” Artim said.
The Addison Independent will notify the public when a date, time and location is confirmed for the EDI presentation.
Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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