Lago’s Looks for Grant Money

NEWPORT CITY – Monday evening, the Newport City Council held a public hearing to take views on applying for a grant of up to $394,000 in Vermont Community Development Program funds. The money would be used to cover the cost of fixtures, furniture and equipment associated with a proposed downtown hotel. Frank and Michelle Richardi want to open a hotel on top of their Lago Tratoria Restaurant on the corner of Main Street and Coventry Street. The project includes adding floors to the two-story building. However, the Richardis have not decided if it will be one or two additional floors.The hotel will have between 14 and 21 guest rooms and suites. It will also have a rooftop restaurant in the summer. The complex will serve leisure and business clients. The hotel will have a small fitness center. The hotel will bring about 10 direct jobs and 15 indirect jobs.“I think it’s a great project,” said Mayor Paul Monette. “It’s a great addition to downtown.”Steven Mason from NEKTI Consulting, who attended the hearing with Michelle Richardi, said they have up to a year to use the funds. They would like to start construction around September. The grant can’t be the only funding source. Mason said the Northern Community Investment Corporation, Vermont Economic Development Authority, Northeastern Vermont Development Association and Housing Vermont are involved as funding partners.The council approved the concept in September. The council will vote on approving the grant application at their next meeting on Feb. 20. The project still needs a zoning permit but, according to Mason, there will be no Act 250 permits.