On August 30, 2023

$3.6M awarded in HUD grants

Zion Growers at the former Vermont Marble Company and Ascend Housing Allies in Rutland among recipients

By Katy Savage

Zion Growers, an industrial hemp processing company in Proctor, was one of nine companies in the state that received a U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant.

Zion was awarded $60,000 to conduct a site feasibility study, draw architectural and engineering plans, review code compliance and conduct an environmental analysis of the former Vermont Marble Company building in Proctor — a 84,000 square foot building.

Travis Samuels, the co-owner of Zion, said he plans to renovate part of the building into an industrial hemp processing facility and turn the rest into a rental space for other businesses, similar to a makerspace. 

“The money is being used for planning toward some of the changes we have to do to the building, including some of the remediation,” Samuels said. 

Samuels bought the building last year from the Preservation Trust of Vermont after he and his business partner started growing hemp on a five-acre parcel in Fair Haven last year. He plans to help existing farmers diversify their products with hemp.

“It’s a better crop for farmers to work with,” he said.

Samuels anticipates his building renovation will cost a few million dollars. The HUD funding puts him a step closer toward achieving his goal.

“We were very excited. It’s a big boost,” he said. “We aren’t millionaires.” 

Meanwhile, Ascend Housing Allies Inc. was awarded $900,000 to rehabilitate 22 affordable rental housing units known as Hospital Heights Apartments on Mahoney Avenue in Rutland. 

Gov. Phil Scott announced the projects awarded on Aug. 24.  

Businesses and organizations were awarded a total of $3.6 million in the state. The money is going toward  economic development, public infrastructure needs and community facilities such as childcare and senior centers. 

“This funding will lay the groundwork for stronger, more resilient neighborhoods throughout Vermont,” said Scott in a press release.

U.S. Sens. Benie Sanders and Peter Welch, and U.S. Rep. Becca Balint congratulated the recipients in a joint statement. 

“At its core, this program is about transforming communities by creating opportunities for Vermonters,” they said. “These grants sustain our sense of community and drive their local economies. They will play diverse and critical roles in our communities, from building new mixed-income housing to supporting housing for individuals in recovery from substance use disorders.”

The other projects include:  

Town of Bennington – $386,190 CDBG award to support the redevelopment of the former Bennington High School into a mixed-use facility with mixed-income housing and community facility space including offices, childcare, and a community center.

Town of Bennington – $500,000 RHP supplemental award to support the Gage Street Recovery Housing project for individuals in recovery from substance use disorders. 

Town of Brattleboro – $450,000 CDBG award to support the infill development for the relocation of up to 26 mobile homes in the Tri-Park that are located within the floodplain.

Town of Craftsbury – $500,000 CDBG-CV supplemental award to support HVAC improvements at the Craftsbury Community Care Center. 

Town of Middlebury – $1,250,000 CDBG award to support the construction of new multi-phased, mixed-income development that will include owner-occupied and rental housing units.

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