300-unit housing development proposed in Brattleboro

Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 5:18 PM EST
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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - Plans are in the works for a massive housing development in Brattleboro that officials say is much needed throughout the region.

“We were one of the first preschools in the country for kids with disabilities,” said Chloe Learey, the Executive Director of the Winston Prouty Center for Child and Family Development.

And decades later that continues to be part of the mission of the center, along with community-based support services for young families. But the focus is shifting slightly to a new priority. “We are really stewarding the property. Yes, we own it but our responsibility is to help the community think about how do we want to use it as a community and what do we need. And housing certainly rose to the top of that list,” Learey said.

They have the room to tackle that problem. The Winston Prouty Center bought the sprawling 180-acre property in Brattleboro from the Austine School for the Deaf back in 2016. The organization plans to build 300 new housing units, which would range from low-income to market-rate homes.

“It will be a huge benefit for Brattleboro,” said Jim Giddings, who owns an art gallery on Main Street in Brattleboro, just a couple miles from the proposed development. “It’s always been a problem for artists who often don’t make a lot of money with their paintings or their chosen field.”

The development will not be cheap. Initial estimates come in at around $275 million, which the center plans to pay for with a mix of state and federal funds, along with private investors. The Strolling of the Heifers organization recently gifted Winston Prouty $175,000 for landscape design. But regardless of who foots the bill, Learey says its core value of inclusion will remain. “In order for this to work, the whole continuum of housing has to be robust. So you might hear people talk about missing middle or workforce housing. If we don’t fill out the whole continuum, people can’t move along it,” she said.

The master plan for the development is already in the works, as is the search for potential partners in the project.