ST. JOHNSBURY — The state of Vermont decided to give credit and determined it is due for a downtown property.
It was announced last week that tax credits worth $49,000 are going to support building code improvements at 443 Railroad St. Property owners Anita and David Roth will leverage $49,000 in tax credits to invest nearly $100,000 into the building to make it safer and code compliant.
The funding support for the St. Johnsbury project was one of 49 projects statewide to benefit from the state program. Other Northeast Kingdom projects benefiting are in Barton, Hardwick and Island Pond.
The Roths purchased the Railroad Street building last December and have plans to locate their own business, Vermont Candle and Supply Co., in a portion of the large ground-level space.
After moving to St. Johnsbury, the Roths founded Cary & Main Co., a business that makes kosher maple products. The company is named as an homage to George Cary (1864-1931), a man referred to as the Maple King for his role in making St. Johnsbury the “Maple Capital of the World.” The Roths’ home was built by Cary. Outside their living room window are an intersection of street signs noting “Cary” for Cary Place and “Main” for Main Street. In recent months, the Roths acquired a sugarbush in Danville that once belonged to Cary.
David Roth said the tax credits are a welcome boost to their efforts in the downtown building, benefiting not only their future business in the space but also the tenants already there, which include commercial businesses and families living in two apartments. Among the businesses operating there now are 443 Consignment, which opened in July, and Kingdom Home Goods and Antiques.
Roth said all the businesses that operate out of 443 Railroad Street will complement each other.
“We want the space to not only be friendly in the way it always has been but also a space where artisans can come and practice their art … and we make some remarkable candles,” he said.
The work supported by the tax credits will specifically be focused on making the building a safe environment, Roth said.
“The tax credit program will be an extraordinary help in making sure that we can get this done,” he said.
He said he and Anita have worked with Assistant State Fire Marshal Tim Angell, of St. Johnsbury, to understand the full scope of the safety issues that need to be addressed. Among the problem areas are code-compliant Sheetrock, a lack of sufficient railings, bathrooms out of compliance and insufficient lighting.
“The building had a tremendous number of life and fire safety deficiencies,” said Roth.
This tax credit-supported project isn’t for beautification, he said. “None of this is simply aesthetics,” said Roth. “This is none of the niceties; these are all necessities.”
Joe Kasprzak, economic development director and assistant town manager in St. Johnsbury said the kind of property investment the Roths are making through the tax credits is something he appreciates.
“I think it’s great to see downtown business owners investing in safety,” he said. Referring to the Roths, he said, “They’re great members of our community and have proven to believe in St. Johnsbury … We’re excited and jazzed to have business owners invest in our downtowns.”
Credits Boost Additional Local Projects
Barton: 100 Church St. Tax credits will support installation of an ADA-compliant restroom in the Barton Public Library. This project will provide improved access to a public meeting space used by dozens of local community groups. Total Project Cost: $46,410; Tax Credits Awarded: $23,205.
Hardwick: 127 Church St. The Hardwick Town House is run by the non-profit Northeast Kingdom Arts group. This façade tax credit will support exterior repairs to ensure this important local community resource remains in good repair. Total Project Cost: 22,000; Tax Credits Awarded: $5,500.
Island Pond: 12 Railroad St. The local grocery store is a community fixture for the village of Island Pond. Owners have spent recent years making improvements to the building’s interior and now, with a façade tax credit award, will be able to tackle the store’s curb appeal. Total Project Cost: $63,110; Tax Credits Awarded: $15,778.
Island Pond: 28 Cross St. Recently purchased by new owners, this mixed-use commercial building will be renovated to create an upper-floor apartment, install a café/bakery, and use the lower level as a fitness/yoga center. Tax credits will support code improvements to ensure the building’s use. Total Project Cost: $166,600; Tax Credits Awarded: $65,275.