- Opportunities For
Designations from the state open the door to grants, tax credits, and other incentives. There are about a dozen designated village centers and three designated downtowns in Rutland County.
Village centers and downtowns provide a place for people, commerce, and local government to come together. These areas are where community suppers are held; the route of the annual parade; where people come to get the news and see a neighbor; the location of the local polling station; and the place to buy a cup of coffee and a donut. They are the economic and cultural center of the community.
Village centers and downtowns are typically comprised of the historic center of town, including residential, civic, religious, and commercial buildings, arranged cohesively along a core of intersecting streets. By design, these centers are more compact than other sections of town. The mix and concentration of homes and businesses lend naturally to economic vibrancy.
The development pattern of a compact center surrounded by working lands supports statewide planning goals to “plan development so as to maintain the historic settlement pattern of compact villages and urban centers separated by rural countryside…” 24 VSA Chapter 117 § 4302(c)(1).
Downtown means the traditional central business district of a community that has served as the focus of socioeconomic interaction in the community, characterized by a cohesive core of commercial and mixed use buildings, some of which may contain mixed use spaces, often interspersed with civic, religious, residential, and industrial buildings and public spaces, typically arranged along a main street and intersecting side streets that are within walking distance for residents who live within and surrounding the core and that serves by public infrastructure such as sidewalks and public transit. Downtowns are typically larger in scale than village centers and are characterized by a development pattern that is consistent with smart growth principles. 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A § 2791.
Village center means the core of traditional settlement, typically comprised of a cohesive mix of residential, civic, religious, commercial, and mixed-use buildings arranged along a main street, and intersecting streets that are within walking distance for residents who live within and surrounding the core. Industrial uses may be found within or immediately adjacent to these centers. Village centers are typically smaller in scale than downtowns and are characterized by a development pattern that is consistent with smart growth principles. 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A §2791.
The designation program was created by the Vermont legislature in 2002. 24 V.S.A. chapter 76A. Designation is the state’s conduit to recognize and support local revitalization efforts with financial incentives for public and private investment.
Historic centers with existing civic and commercial buildings that meet the definition of a village or a downtown are encouraged to apply for designation. Applications are reviewed quarterly by a review board at Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Full details about the village center and downtown applications are available to download from ACCD’s website.
The most commonly used benefits are tax credits, priority to municipalities for grants from the State of Vermont, state buildings priority, Neighborhood Development Area designation eligibility, and technical assistance from the state. Click here for a list of funding opportunities compiled by the state that accompanies designation status. Here’s a Success Story from St Albans where they leveraged state funding, tax credits, and private investment.
Applications for tax credits are competitive and applications are due annually on July 1. Full information can be found here. Currently, credits range from 10-50% of investment costs, support building façade improvements or rehabilitation, technology and code upgrades, and may be combined with the federal historic rehabilitation program.