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Housing Groups Option Montpelier's French Block

Peter Hirschfeld
Housing Vermont and Downstreet Housing & Community Development have signed an option with Aubuchon Hardware to redevelop apartments on the upper two floors of Montpelier's French Block.

The two stories above the Aubuchon Hardware store on Montpelier's Main Street once housed apartments, but they have been vacant for over 75 years. Now two non-profit housing groups plan to redevelop the space into 18 single-bedroom apartments.

"Housing Vermont and Downstreet Housing & Community Development have signed an option with Aubuchon Hardware for the upper floors of Montpelier's French Block," Downstreet announced this week. The plan calls for a mix of affordable and market-rate rents, according to Alison Friedkin, Downstreet's director of real estate development.

Historically called the French Block, the 1875 Italianate style three-story brick building is located across from City Hall.

"This building is a contributing structure in the Montpelier Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places," the announcement states.

According to Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser, the additional housing would help ease Montpelier's tight rental market. He said the vacancy rate currently is around one percent.

"The City of Montpelier is thrilled that Downstreet and Housing Vermont have secured an option on the French Block," Fraser said. "The redevelopment in the heart of the downtown will create greatly needed affordable housing. The city has been committed to seeing this project become a reality for over 20 years and looks forward to a successful outcome."

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