Redevelopment group extends purchase option for Putnam Block


BENNINGTON >> The investment group seeking to redevelop the Putnam Block will have another three months to study the properties and purchase them from the Greenberg family.

The group had announced this summer its plans to buy and renovate six buildings at the Four Corners intersection, including the former Putnam Hotel. A purchase agreement with the Greenberg family gave the group a 90-day window to conduct environmental assessments, surveys and title work.

The Bennington Redevelopment Group (BRG) announced on Tuesday that its members and the Greenberg family have agreed to extend the due diligence period another 90 days. More time is needed in part for review of an environmental assessment, according to Bill Colvin, assistant director for the Bennington County Regional Commission, which was engaged to provide project management services to BRG.

The extended option agreement does not affect the previously negotiated $2 million purchase price, Colvin said. He said the extended deadline to study the property is not unexpected.

"It's a lot of land in a historic downtown," Colvin said in an interview with the Banner on Tuesday. "There have been a lot of uses in downtown Bennington over the years, and some of those uses result in activities that need to be examined."

A 4,500-page Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment "will take some time to work through," he said.

That report was submitted to the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on Sept. 9, according to Kristi Herzer, hazardous site manager with the state's brownfields program. Herzer, the project's manager for DEC, said she has not completed her review of the study. The study is often conducted before a property transfer, includes a "non-invasive site inspection," historical and current uses, and interviews with current and former land owners," she said.

BRG members "sincerely appreciate the cooperation of the Greenberg family," Colvin said. He said he and group members are still optimistic the project will come to fruition.

"Future lenders and potential grant funders for this project will expect this due diligence work to be completed prior to closing on the property," Colvin stated in a news release.

BRG announced in July plans to renovate the Putnam Block, sometimes called the Greenberg Block, into a mixed-use development with residential, restaurants, office and retail spaces. Members, who include people from local companies, colleges, financial institutions and the hospital, have said the project would be an economic boom for the town. The renovation of some 200,000 square feet is estimated to cost between $20 million to $30 million and be paid with public and private funds — a combination of grants, tax credits, charitable donations, loans, banks and private sources.

Herzer said her review of the environmental study could be completed in the first week of October. A list of questions and comments would be sent to the environmental consultant, Sanborn, Head & Associates, Inc., which would then submit a revised report to DEC.

Depending on the findings, a second phase could begin that involves sampling for contaminants on the properties, she said.

Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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