Situated on the Connecticut River, with views of Fall Mountain in New Hampshire, the Green Mountain Railway yard, and the historic Bellows Falls Canal, the new Bellows Falls Garage offers 27 affordable housing units in downtown Bellows Falls, Vermont.
This once-dilapidated building from the 1920s has housed a car dealership and garage, a maintenance shop, a sign shop, dry cleaners, and even a commune. The original intention was to renovate the 100-year-old building, but the high cost of converting the fragile concrete structure into housing necessitated its demolition and replacement with a new building.
DEW Construction collaborated with the Windham and Windsor Housing Trust in redeveloping this brownfield site into a 31,879 GSF multifamily housing building. The structure, designed by Gossens Bachman Architects, contains five studio apartments, eighteen one-bedroom apartments, and four two-bedroom apartments. The first floor comprises a mailroom, resident reading room, and a for-rent retail space at the northern entrance to downtown Bellows Falls. Designed for high performance and energy efficiency, the structure employs an electric/propane heating system with active energy recovery ventilation. Future plans include the installation of a 30 kW solar photovoltaic array.
The building’s design deviates from the typical rectangular box due to the irregular shape of the building lot. As a result, the apartments within it feature intriguing angles, giving the entire structure a distinct and unique appearance. This departure from the norm creates beautiful living spaces that offer a refreshing and unconventional experience. The original façade could not be reused due to safety concerns. Nevertheless, a local sign company was enlisted to meticulously recreate the original façade, including the precise carving of the words “Bellows Falls Garage” above the front door on Canal Street, preserving the historical identity of the original building.
Demolition of the building began in January 2022. Constructing the building during the pandemic presented several challenges, such as delays in the schedule, labor scarcity, and lengthy lead times for materials—this, coupled with a tight site and a busy downtown location, made this a complex project to manage.
The Windham & Windsor Housing Trust held a formal ribbon cutting and open house at the Bellows Falls Garage at the end of April, and the new residents began moving in the first week of June. The residents were greeted with gift baskets from DEW Construction that contained items from the local Common Sense Store, such as pancake mix from Halladay’s Harvest Barn in Bellows Falls, maple syrup from Mount Mansfield Maple Products in Winooski, and homemade soap from The Common Sense Store.
Check out the video below!