RUTLAND–Already with a strong presence in the Opera House in the heart of downtown Rutland, Castleton University is planning a two-floor, efficient living space nearby that could become a model for others. In collaboration with Mark Foley, Jr., Castleton and Green Mountain Power will leverage energy innovation to bring empty space back to life.
“Working with Mark Foley Jr. and Green Mountain Power, we will create a highly sustainable home for 40 students and turn space that has been empty for decades into a prototype for downtown redevelopment and energy innovation,” Castleton President Dave Wolk said, making the announcement Feb. 25. “We see this as an exciting addition to our current housing options, to Castleton’s Rutland presence, and to the Solar Capital of New England and Energy City of the Future.”
The student housing is the latest in the university’s ongoing expansion into Rutland, which already hosts Castleton Downtown, the Castleton Polling Institute, the Castleton Center for Community Engagement, Spartan Arena, and several downtown art spaces, including the Castleton Downtown Gallery. A recent partnership with the Rutland Economic Development Corporation has further solidified Castleton’s commitment to being an economic and intellectual driver in the region.
Wolk, like Foley a Rutland native, said the project represented a major commitment to Rutland and would be followed by additional projects. “Our foundation will always be in Castleton, a place with more than 225 years of history and a bright future, but we will create our future growth in Rutland, strengthening our relationships and forging new opportunities for our students to make a difference,” Wolk said.
Castleton will work with GMP, Efficiency Vermont, and Foley to determine how to best use high-tech energy innovations in the space located on the second and third floors of the Clement Building, which sits at the northeast corner of West Street and Merchants Row. The Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Rutland Partnership, and Little Harry’s Restaurant occupy the entire first floor.
“This project will feed the ongoing revitalization in Rutland,” GMP Vice President Steve Costello said. “It is a great partnership with Castleton, Mark Foley and the city as a whole, and continues the important work we are all doing to use energy innovation and teamwork to transform Rutland. Lowering carbon output and customer cost and creating a learning environment for future leaders will be key elements of the project, along with socioeconomic development through energy transformation.”
Building owner Foley is seeking state and local permits to restore the exterior of the late 19th century building to its original brick-faced glory and to create sixteen units, complete with kitchens and living spaces as well as a common area and laundry on the second floor. Completion is expected in time for students to move in this August.
“I believe the restoration of this space will mark a turning point for downtown Rutland, and symbolizes the upward trajectory that the city is on,” said Foley, who bought the building several years ago. “I’m thrilled to be able to turn this forgotten space into a key element of Rutland’s rebirth, and the energy revolution at its heart.”
The Castleton Plan, a strategic blueprint for the next ten years of the University, highlighted by new and enhanced graduate programs and increased opportunities for students in Rutland, is driving the initiative, as the new housing option will greatly benefit graduate students and upper-level undergraduates interning and volunteering through the more than 400 community partnerships created through the Castleton Center for Community Engagement.
Mayor Chris Louras welcomed the investment in the property, Castleton’s commitment to the city, and the 40 students who will soon call Rutland home. “Rutland’s rebirth is a study in collaboration, and this project is representative of the creativity that is at its heart,” Louras said. “As a city and region, we are blessed to have so many key leaders working together to boost Rutland and make it a great place to live, work, play–and study!”