College purchase of hotel could be a boon to downtown


BENNINGTON -- The Kirkside Motor Lodge has been purchased by the Northeastern Baptist College to be used as a dormitory.

College President Mark Ballard said the sale was finalized two weeks ago. The lodge, at 250 Main St., is between Sacred Heart St. Francis de Sales Church and the Dollar General.

"We've got to do some work on it," said Ballard.

Dormitories must meet specific safety codes under Vermont law, he said, which means the one-story building needs upgrades to its sprinkler and fire alarm systems. The rooms will also undergo some minor cosmetic changes. With the purchase and renovations, it is roughly a $400,000 project, said Ballard.

The motel was bought from Rumpelstiltskin Realty, run by Billy and Patricia Soto, said Ballard.

The college, which began offering classes last year, is on its way toward full state accreditation and expects to grow in the coming years, he said. It currently has 44 students.

Once complete, the dorm will be able to house between 50 and 60 people. Right now, not all those attending need or want a dorm room. The property could begin housing as soon as sometime in September, but plans need to be finalized, said Ballard.

Its proximity to the downtown area as well as the college's library across the street are a plus.

John Shannahan, executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation, which promotes Bennington's downtown, said the dorm is expected to be a boon for the area. Successful downtowns have people living in them, he said. Looking at Brattleboro as an example, one can see many of its downtown buildings are multi-story with the upper floors being apartments.

In the past, Bennington had no laws saying its downtown structures required multiple stories, so over the years as buildings came and went, they were replaced with single-floor structures. New codes require them to have more than one floor, but it remains that the downtown has less housing than it could.

"This is a great thing to have in the downtown," he said, and it's good news that the college expects to keep growing.

Ballard said the dorm building will be renamed "Jehovah Jireh Hall." Jehovah Jireh, roughly translated from Hebrew, means, "The Lord Will Provide."

The Kirkside property was sold through Hoisington Realty. Realtor Ted Bird said the sale of commercial properties has picked up in the past year or so.

Bird and Hoisington Realty have been involved in the sale of the former Vermont Timber Frames building to K&E Plastics, the Arlington Plaza sale to Dollar General, a former Carbone Auto site sale to the Bennington County Sheriff's Department, Colonial Gardens Apartment Complex to Ureka LLC, Haynes and Kanes to LaFlamme's -- which burned down, but then LaFlamme's moved to the former Alcaro building -- and land on Harwood Hill owned by Synergy Land sold to Chiti LLC.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.


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