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Shoreham businessman buys Green Mountain College campus for $4.5 million

Raj Peter Bhakta gives a tour at the WhistlePig farm in Shoreham in 2014.

SHOREHAM — One of the founders of WhistlePig Rye Whiskey in Shoreham this week was announced as the winning bidder for the former Green Mountain College property in Poultney, an asset he plans to maintain and operate for educational purposes.
Raj Peter Bhakta on Aug. 18 submitted a winning bid of $4.55 million for the college property, which ceased operations in 2019.
The 185-year-old college succumbed to declining enrollment. The campus featured 22 buildings and 447,000 square feet of office, dormitory and other indoor space.
The property was appraised for $20 million in 2016.
Bhakta set up WhistlePig in Shoreham in 2010, and he left the company in 2017 and now runs Bhakta Farms, an enterprise that includes an agricultural operation on 1,400 acres off North Orwell Road in Shoreham; Chateau Bhakta, in Condom, France; and an estate in Vero Beach, Fla.
Bhakta, reached by phone on Aug. 19, offered few details about his purchase of Green Mountain College, except to say, “Addison County has been an integral part of my journey in life. It will remain an integral part of the future of our broader plans in Vermont, which now include a large anchor placed in Poultney and the revitalization and regeneration of Green Mountain College.”
He promised to hold a press conference later this summer to elaborate on his plans.
One of Bhakta’s calling cards early in his career was that Donald Trump fired him during the 2004 season of the NBC reality television show “The Apprentice.”
The 155-acre Green Mountain College property dominates the town of Poultney, which has a population of about 3,300.  In addition to seven dormitories, gymnasium and three-story library, the Bhakta bought three mixed-use buildings, three administrative buildings, two arts buildings with galleries, three single-family homes, a barn and a biomass plant that includes a wood-fueled biomass heating system that was built in 2010 at a cost of $5.8 million.
Among the amenities offered in the sales brochure were an indoor pool, a 400-seat theater and a barn and greenhouse, in addition to housing for 654 students.

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