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In Vergennes, Kennedy Brothers sale is off

VERGENNES — A potential sale of Kennedy Brothers in Vergennes has fallen through, but the principals in the deal still hope for a lease arrangement that would establish a grocery store on the North Main Street landmark’s ground floor.
Vergennes resident Neil Swenor, a former longtime worker at Greg’s Meat Market in Middlebury, had hoped to buy the Kennedy Brothers property, which includes 4 acres and an almost 42,000-square-foot building.
But Kennedy Brothers president Win Grant confirmed last week that deal, struck this past summer, will not work out as originally planned.
Grant said, however, Swenor still wants to install and operate an independent grocery store of roughly 10,000-to-12,000 square feet inside the complex.
Grant said Swenor was unable to obtain a loan to purchase the entire building and thus close on last summer’s purchase-and-sale agreement, but he is still working with a lender to fund a lease for a grocery store that would be the same size as first planned.
“They (the lender) just want him to come and do what he does best,” Grant said. 
Swenor did not return a phone message left for him at his home before the deadline for this edition of the Independent, nor did he return calls during an earlier attempt to update the situation. Then, in October, Grant still had held out hope for a sale.
Grant, whose property has been listed for sale at $1.2 million, said if Swenor now obtains financial support the grocery store would fill most of the leasable space in the building’s first floor. He has been actively seeking to lease the remaining 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of available space that he said is split between the building’s first and second stories.
“We’re still looking for tenants,” he said.
Grant said his current second-story tenants, Vermont Sun Fitness and Vintage Fitness, who between them rent about 5,000 square feet, are doing well.
“They’re both very active,” he said.
Grant shut down retail operations at Kennedy Brothers in 2010 after a mostly successful 52-year run. At the time of its closing, Kennedy Brothers employed nine full- and part-time employees and accommodated 50 craft vendors who rented booths in the building’s 10,000-square-foot marketplace.
After its more profitable years, Kennedy Brothers downsized twice during the last decade as people’s shopping habits changed and Grant contemplated retirement. First, Grant closed a second-level antiques center, and in 2007 he consolidated about 19,000 square feet of first-floor retail operations into the brick portion of his building, a space encompassing about half the first level. Kennedy Brothers held a liquidation sale from November 2010 through early 2011.
Kennedy Brothers, which continues to function as a real estate holding company, maintains an office in the building.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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