Champlain Housing Trust to Convert Ho Hum Motel to Multi-Family Dwelling

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Thursday August 06, 2015

As early as this November, the Ho Hum Motel at 1200 Shelburne Rd. will be converted to a multi-family dwelling run by the Champlain Housing Trust.

This change comes after the Development Review Board’s approval of a planned unit development (plan #SD-15-03) to convert a 24 room motel to a 20 unit multi-family dwelling. The rooms will be converted to one bedroom and efficiency apartments. The Champlain Housing Trust will be leasing the building for 15 years before having the option to purchase.

According to Amy Demetrowitz, the director of real estate development for the Champlain Housing Trust, the residents will be individuals who are currently homeless and medically vulnerable.

There will be two on-site workers helping tenants make medical appointments and connections with other social services. One apartment will be reserved for a resident manager. This ensures that there is 24/7 access to neighbors should adjacent properties have questions or concerns.

Marian Fritz of the Burlington company Grandview Farms, Inc.--property manager of the Panera building adjacent to the existing motel--has already expressed positive interest in the future plans.

This plan also ties into one of the adopted Comprehensive Plan goals for availability of quality housing and quality affordable housing to attract and retain a qualified workforce. The criterion for this vision was based on a letter from the applicant submitted to the board on July 9:

“The 20 apartments created at 1200 Shelburne Road will be restricted to tenants earning less than 60% of AMI through a Housing Subsidy Covenant with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. In fact, the tenants will all likely be earning less than 30% of AMI as we are partnering with Safe Harbor which works with medically vulnerable homeless individuals.”

The base density of the property is 15 units within the C1-R15 Portion of the property, and therefore the applicant asked for a 33 percent density bonus due to 100 percent of the units meeting the affordability definition; the board granted this.

The applicant also plans for 20 paved parking spaces as well as 13 additional spaces in a reserved area for a total of 33 spaces. The board granted a 25 percent waiver at sketch plan to reduce the required amount of parking from 40 spots to 30. The applicant explained that the tenants will be less likely to have vehicles, and there will be bike racks on site. The applicant will only be required to construct 20 of the spaces at this time.

Since sketch plan, there were technical, but not substantial, changes made to the plan. There was one notable change made after discussion with neighbors.

“I had a conversation with neighbors to the east, and in consideration of some of their concerns, we’ve decided not to convert the garage into community space at this time. That may be something we come back to request in the future,” Demetrowitz said.

The fire chief had not submitted comments prior to the hearing, but the board agreed that the comments could be conditioned into the motion. An outstanding stormwater issue has also been vetted by Public Works.

The Champlain Housing Trust will begin work after the appeal period and are aiming for occupancy in November.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent