College, town OK property swap

MIDDLEBURY — A town-gown agreement that will lead to removal of the Lazarus building at 20 Main St. and the potential development of land off Bakery Lane in downtown Middlebury is receiving praise from municipal officials and Middlebury College leaders.
The Middlebury selectboard on Tuesday, Feb. 25, unanimously approved the so-called “exchange agreement” with the college. First proposed last June, the pact calls for the college to acquire the Lazarus building and then convey it to the town. The town would then fulfill its long-desired wish to remove the structure to allow for the widening of the adjacent Printer’s Alley to provide better access to the Marble Works business complex.
“Following the removal of the building, the town will use the site to widen and improve the existing access over Printer’s Alley to the Marble Works complex, making pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular safety enhancements,” the agreement states. “As part of this project, the town will initiate a study of improved ingress and egress to and from the Marble Works, including a potential second exit point.”
For its part, the town would convey to the college the approximately 0.36 acres of land it owns adjacent to Cross Street and Bakery Lane. The college would combine that land with its own real estate holdings in that same area to market to an entity to develop an economic development project. That venture has not yet been defined, but is expected to include some mixed-use buildings designed to enhance the social and economic vitality of the downtown area.
The college has pledged to maintain any public parking that currently occupies the 0.36 acres it is acquiring from the town, until the land is developed in compliance with the local permitting process. The deal is contingent on all necessary permits being acquired by both parties.
An official closing on the deal is expected on or before May 1, according to the agreement.
The town has 12 months from the date of closing to remove the Lazarus building, a deadline the parties could mutually choose to extend.
Middlebury selectboard members called the agreement a positive step forward.
Ron Liebowitz, president of Middlebury College, also hailed the accord.
“We are delighted, as always, to collaborate with the town to create a better Middlebury,” Liebowitz said. “This particular project will improve access to and views of the beautiful and historic Marble Works district. Together with the new railroad bridge replacement project, it will have a tremendously positive impact on our downtown.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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