In Brattleboro, two dreams have moved closer to reality. One is the dream of restoring the Brooks House, an important downtown building, gutted by fire in 2011.
There’s also the dream of a downtown college campus that would bring students and jobs to Brattleboro’s Main Street.
On Thursday the Vermont State College trustees agreed to negotiate a lease with the local investors group that hopes to restore the Brooks House.
The plan is to establish an academic center in the building, serving both Community College of Vermont and Vermont Technical College.
Governor Peter Shumlin set aside two million dollars for the Brattleboro campus. He says it will help the town economically and educationally.
State College trustee Martha O’Connor of Brattleboro agrees.
"Businesses are excited," O’Connor says. "And everyone seems to think that to have college students downtown will really revitalize the business community with book stores, little restaurants, whatever."
Brattleboro engineer and designer Bob Stevens is a principal in the partnership behind the twenty-one million dollar renovation.
He says the colleges are key to making the project work.
"They really provide the confidence for the funders to lend us the money," Syevens says. "They provide sort of the energy and activity to help rent the space up and really, a secure tenant for a long period of time, which gives us the confidence that we’ll be able to pay our bills. So it’s a huge piece of putting this whole project together."
Stevens and his partners have an option to buy the historic building. He says the group should be ready to do that in about a month.