May 19, 2024

Housing Finance Development

It's Your Housing Finance Development

College and Summit Properties affordable housing project receives state grant

An affordable housing initiative being developed by Middlebury College and South Burlington-based Summit Properties received $6,075,405 in grant funding from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) to subsidize the cost of constructing approximately 100 new units of housing. 

The project began in April 2022, when the college purchased a 35-acre parcel of land on Seminary Street Extension for $1.5 million. Intended to address the historically sparse and expensive housing available for faculty and staff of the college, the ongoing development project hopes to provide flexible living options that range from studio apartments to multi-family homes. In addition to serving employees of the  college, the new housing will provide more accessible housing options for employees of Porter Medical Center and other local businesses. 

The project is currently in the design and permit phase, as Summit Properties is working closely with town leadership to construct and revise blueprints of the new neighborhood. 

“Permitting is a three-step process,” Zeke Davisson, chief operating officer of Summit Properties told The Campus in an email, “[including] Sketch Plan Review, Preliminary Plan/Plat and Final Plan.” 

“Financing is ongoing, but we are in a busy period right now for state and federal infrastructure financing applications,” Davidson added.

The new grant funding from the Housing Finance Agency will help offset the expected $40 million  total cost of the housing project. The college’s initial $1.5 million investment will be repaid to them by Summit over the next five to six years. 

In an email to The Campus, David Provost, executive vice president of Finance and Administration said that the new grant money from the VHFA will plug the “missing middle” in the project, “bolster[ing] Summit’s ability to offset the cost of construction [and] allowing many college employees and other townspeople to qualify to live in these units.” 

The new funding from the Vermont Housing Finance Agency is sourced from the organization’s Missing Middle-Income Homeownership Program, which aims to increase the rates of homeownership among Vermont residents that fall at average income levels. 

“The total statewide awards of $14.2 million through the program was the biggest one-time investment in affordable homeownership ever made by the State of Vermont,” Davisson said.“[Summit’s] award for the Middlebury community was more than 40% of that total.” 

An affordable housing initiative, and particularly one of this scale, requires the intermingling and cooperation of many moving parts. The complexity of the process is magnified in a small, rural town like Middlebury, according to Davisson. “There are a huge number of variables that need to come together. We’ve found everyone in this community is pulling the same oar to make it a reality,” he said.