Housing trust takes ownership of Williston hotel

Affordable housing to be ready for occupants this summer

Observer staff report

The Champlain Housing Trust has finalized a $13.4 million purchase of TownePlace Suites in Williston and plans to move forward with a conversion of the hotel into 72 affordable and homeless transitional apartments, the non-profit announced Wednesday. 

The property, on Zephyr Road, will be renamed Zephyr Place. After renovations and site work, it is expected to be ready for occupancy this summer.

“We are looking forward to adding new affordable apartments to Williston and Chittenden County in this great location,” said Champlain Housing Trust CEO Michael Monte. “It’s so difficult for so many people to find any available homes, much less those affordable to low-wage workers or those who are unhoused.”

The Vermont Housing & Conservation Board provided funds for the purchase with a combination of federal pandemic recovery money and Vermont general funds appropriated by the Legislature.

“We are grateful to the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board for supporting this effort, and for the Legislature and governor for prioritizing housing,” Monte said.

Thirty-eight of the 72 apartments will be designated for people coming out of homelessness, 26 will be affordable to those earning up to 60 percent of the region’s median income, or roughly $20 an hour for a single person household. The remaining eight will be affordable to those earning up to 80 percent of median income (about $26 an hour). 

Champlain Housing Trust will have an onsite property manager as well as resident services staff to support residents.

Over half of the apartments will have a rental subsidy tying tenants’ rent to 30 percent of their income. For those that don’t have a direct subsidy, rents for the studio and one-bedroom apartments will range from $850 to $1,050 a month — about 20 percent lower than market value rent for the region. All utilities are included.

Chittenden County’s vacancy rate is sitting at less than 1 percent, and three out of ten renters in the county pay more than 50 percent of their income for rent, according to the Champlain Housing Trust.

The organization now begins renovations and site work at the former hotel, including the addition of a sidewalk along Zephyr Road to Route 2A, where there is access to public transportation. 

Gus Seelig, executive director of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, said: “VHCB is proud to invest state and federal funding to help CHT in their effort to expand the supply of permanent housing.”