Sale of land at Routes 7 and 22A falls through
FERRISBURGH — For the third time since putting it on the market in September 2010 the town of Ferrisburgh has seen a potential sale of its 34.91-acre parcel at the junction of Routes 7 and 22A collapse.
Town officials learned late during business hours this past Wednesday that Andrew Peterson, owner of Monkton’s Peterson Quality Malts, was ending his $337,500 deal to buy the prominent parcel based on the financing contingency in his purchase contract.
Peterson, who hoped to build a 10,000-square-foot, barn-like malt-processing house and to grow barley on the land, wrote the news in a letter hand-delivered to the Ferrisburgh selectboard by selling broker Carl Cole.
“Thank you for the time and opportunity to allow me to attempt to purchase and develop the land,” Peterson said. “After months of research, due diligence, and budgeting, I am sorry to say that I will not be able to secure the financing needed for the project.”
Ferrisburgh selectboard Chairwoman Loretta Lawrence said board members favored the project and believe Peterson did everything he could to make the project work, and that they hope his company succeeds in expanding elsewhere.
“It is with great sadness we hear the project will not be happening,” Lawrence said. “This would have been a win-win for both Andrew and the town. The board certainly has been supportive every step of the way, and of course this project would have been a great advance for both local and Vermont products. We also understand that Andrew put all his resources into making this project work, and financing has been difficult. And the board truly wishes him the best luck in his future endeavors.”
The property was deeded to Ferrisburgh in 2010 after complex negotiations in which the Agency of Transportation ended up with land for the former Vergennes rail station and its park-and-ride lot, and much of the remaining land was conserved through the Preservation Trust of Vermont and local partners.
Ferrisburgh first listed the land for sale for $375,000 in September 2010, and in August 2011 signed a full-price contract with Montpelier’s Eastern Development Corp. But after 11 months, that deal’s financing contingencies were not met, and the land came back on the market.
In the spring of 2014 the selectboard inked a $350,000 deal for the land with auto dealer Tom Denecker. Denecker faced opposition from Agency of Natural Resources officials and questions about whether his proposal conformed to a new Act 250 regulation. Denecker then walked away from the deal in December 2014, citing permitting contingencies.
The topic will be on the selectboard’s agenda on Tuesday, and Lawrence said she believes the property should be relisted at the same $375,000 asking price that has produced three contracts.
“I think the recommendation would be to put it back on the market at the original price,” Lawrence said. “Like any project we would deal with it when someone came to us. It’s all negotiable. But the market seems to be picking up a little bit.”
Despite the latest setback Lawrence said the selectboard remains optimistic.
“If people like Andrew came forward there’s still potential out there,” she said.
Peterson has since 2013 processed malt, a key ingredient of beer, from Vermont-grown barley in a 3,000-square-foot converted barn on his Monkton property. His customers are Vermont microbrewers, several of them local, and Peterson has said demand exceeds what he can produce there.
Peterson, who could not immediately be reached for comment late last week, has said he hopes a larger malt house could eventually also create a new market for county farmers and encourage them to plant barley.
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