NORTHEAST KINGDOM – Last week Bill Stenger and partners unveiled a half-billion dollar development plan and promised 10,000 new jobs, with about 5,000 permanent positions.
“We believe this undertaking will fundamentally alter the economic landscape of the Northeast Kingdom and how the international business community views this region of Vermont,” said Stenger, co-owner of Jay Peak Resort.
The plan is not only ambitious but has an aggressive timeline of three to five years to completion. Although the timeline is brief, Stenger has proven his word on expansion projects, as evidenced with the nearly $200 million in multiple development projects at Jay Peak Resort over the last few years.
Discussion of many of the projects has taken place over the last couple of years, but there were a few surprises revealed at the announcement ceremonies last Thursday at Jay Peak Resort, the Gateway Center in Newport, and Burke Mountain Resort.
One surprise is the revitalization of the Spates Block in Newport, owned by Doug and Vivian Spates. The block stretches from Central Street to Second Street.
The buildings encompassing the block are old and in very poor shape. The bottom floors are commercial/retail space with some spaces occupied while others that have been sitting vacant for years. The upper floors are residential.
Stenger struck a deal with the Spates and the block will come down. A six story Renaissance Block is slated to go in its place with the first two floors commercial and the top four floors residential. The top floor is high enough for views of the lake. The investment on the project is $70 million with a time-line of 2012-2013.
When visitors come into Newport to stay at the proposed waterfront hotel, they will need an attractive place to congregate for shopping and dining opportunities, Stenger explained at the conference. The design will provide an anchor for Newport’s revitalization and create a downtown experience that will blend the beauty of Lake Memphremagog and the vibrancy of a creative retail community along Main Street. Stenger drew a comparison between Church Street Marketplace in Burlington where visitors walk year-round to hang out and shop.