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WAVES OF CHANGE

September 27, 2012

An architectural rendering of what would replace the Spates Block in downtown Newport City. Photo by Chris Roy. Drawing by Black River Designs.

JAY - A highly ambitious development plan for the region, utilizing upwards of $500 million, was unveiled by local entrepreneurs and state officials Thursday. Plans include vast development for Newport City, the airport, Burke Mountain Resort, and Jay Peak.
The plans were outlined at a presentation in the ballroom of the new Hotel Jay. Joining Jay Peak Resort co-owners Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros were Governor Peter Shumlin, Senators Bernie Sanders, Pat Leahy, Congressman Peter Welch, VT Secretary of Commerce Lawrence Miller, VT Transportation Secretary Brian Searles, and developer Tony Pomerleau.
The plans for Newport include a 150-suite waterfront hotel and conference center with retail space and a 75,000 square foot bio-technology facility. A German window manufacturer has decided to locate in Newport. The 40,000 foot requirement for that business will be located in the same building as the biotech facility, AnC Bio Vermont.
Stenger announced that he and Doug and Vivian Spates have come to an agreement on the “Spates Block” located from Second Street to Central Street. Under the plan, the old buildings would be torn down and replaced with a five–story building called the Renaissance Block. It will have two levels for retail and three levels of residential units along with “Newport Penthouses.”
The airport runway is expanding by 1,000 feet for a total of 5,000 feet; a manufacturing facility is slated to open on airport land along with a new terminal and other upgrades and expansions.
Burke Mountain will see four new “rustic hotels.” Stenger and partner Quiros have already invested $1 million in snow making at the resort.

Jay Peak, now about 75 percent complete, will continue to see development of State Side with many upgrades, a hotel, a medical facility, and new trails.
Each part of the plan is designed to support each other, Stenger explained. The development plans reach from cutting edge health care research, to energy efficiency from state-of-the-art windows, to tourism, recreation, and beyond. Stenger also invited local education leaders to the presentation who can develop a workforce ready to take on the various job opportunities.
Stenger estimates 5,000 jobs could be created through the various projects in addition to contractor positions.
Each dignitary who spoke called the plans extraordinary. The Northeast Kingdom historically has been known as the most depressed area of the state with high unemployment compared to other regions. For decades people have longed for a better life In the NEK and hoped that when their children grew up they would not be forced to leave due to lack of employment opportunities.
If everything goes according to the master plan over the next three years, it will be a huge tipping point for the area, creating a place so many have dreamed of for years but didn’t know how to achieve.
Stenger says its coming together because of the cooperation and hard work at all levels from federal, state, and local officials, to all the hard workers dedicated to seeing the plans through.
The more than $150 million development and expansion at Jay Peak was funded through the EB-5 foreign investor program. That program was set to end this month, but was just extended for another three years. Without that extension, Stenger said, none of the new development plans would take shape.
Shumlin said,“Were saying to the rest of the world were open for business.”
A presentation with the same speakers also took place at the Gateway Center in Newport with more details about the plans.
Each speaker talked about the beauty of the region with enthusiasm, but noted that is it coupled with continuous economic struggles. “You can’t pay the mortgage with natural beauty,” Sanders stated while speaking to the group, noting that a diversity of good paying jobs are needed.
Look for several upcoming stories with details of each project and the impact to the region in upcoming editions of the Newport Daily Express

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