Killington Mountain Lodge owner hopes to open hotel in downtown Rutland
RUTLAND — An initiative of the Rutland Redevelopment Authority (RRA) and the City of Rutland took a big step forward recently with the City and a local private developer agreeing to a lease option, which could lead to the eventual development of a first class hotel and conference center and pedestrian mall, along the Evelyn Street corridor.
The redevelopment plan for the Evelyn Street corridor has been discussed publicly on numerous occasions over the last few years and has generated significant public support. The lease option, on the approximately half acre of City-owned land currently known as Depot Park, was approved by the City’s Board of Aldermen on June 6. This commitment from the City provides site control needed by the prospective hotel developer to proceed forward with investment plans, according to a July 11 RRA news release.
The concept calls for a 128-room, five-story hotel, which will feature approximately 5,000 square feet of meeting space, 20,000 square feet of commercial space, and a full-service restaurant at grade level.
Evelyn Street would be closed to vehicular traffic and developed as an open air public space, creating an inviting venue for the Farmer’s Market and other outdoor events, similar to Burlington’s Church Street Marketplace.
“We are very excited to have found an interested private developer who will be working with the City to develop this underutilized area of the downtown into a vibrant destination,” said Mayor Chris Louras. “The concept of a downtown hotel has been discussed for many years and the timing is absolutely right to move this project forward with full community support.”
John L. Kalish, a longtime Rutland resident, developer and attorney, is the developer named in the lease option agreement. Kalish with his development team will move forward with the requisite planning, permitting, and due-diligence.
Kalish’s partnership also recently acquired and repositioned a landmark hotel in Killington in February of 2015 (the Killington Mountain Lodge, formerly The Inn at Six Mountains) and he was integrally involved with the new CCV building at the corner of West Street and Wales.
John Kalish said, “Rutland City needs a project like this. This city has not had a downtown hotel since 1973, when the Berwick Hotel burned. This project will positively transform Rutland and will become a proud cornerstone of the downtown revitalization efforts. Rutland City is beautiful, with its attractive architecture and stunning panoramic mountain views. We need to get our story out and give visitors a reason to stay in our downtown, give businesses a venue to hold corporate events, and give locals a place to meet friends, eat and socialize. It’s my hope that this will spark collateral complementary development from others to continue to invest in our downtown. Rutland (and Vermont in general) is a niche market that flies below the radar of institutional investors, but that’s where opportunity exists for smaller developers, that know the market, have the tools, and have a vested interest in the wellbeing of their community. There are a lot of moving parts to this project. It will only work with collective team effort and support from the city, state and capital partners.”
William Notte, president of the Board of Aldermen, said “The Board of Aldermen and other city officials have devoted a great deal of time and effort into transforming an unused portion of the plaza property, and the quietest street in downtown, into a vibrant community space. The lease option allows us to move forward on this exciting proposition and by approving it the Board of Aldermen has shown a clear interest in creating the climate necessary to bring larger numbers of both locals and tourists into our downtown.” The City may also seek a planning grant through the Vermont Community Development Program in the upcoming round to assist the developer in the due-diligence process.
The process of developing the Evelyn Street conceptual plan was aided greatly with assistance from Enman Kesselring Consulting Engineers who volunteered to provide free initial planning services to the RRA to help facilitate redevelopment of the area. The current project also builds a hotel market upon analysis, completed in 2013, which was jointly commissioned by the RRA and the Downtown Rutland Partnership. The study determined there was market demand for a quality hotel and identified the Evelyn Street corridor as a viable location. A recent survey of the Downtown Rutland merchants and property owners also determined that the future development of a downtown hotel was a top priority.