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Waste Site Cleanup & Reuse in New England

Rail Road Row Redevelopment - Hartford, VT
(June 2006)

Program: EPA Assessment Grant
Grant Recipient: Two Rivers – Ottauquechee Regional Commission (contacts)
Summary: A $200,000 EPA Assessment Grant helps give a Vermont downtown's economy a bright spot.

The historic, but dilapidated, Twin State Fruit warehouse property underwent an economic and environmental recovery thanks to a site assessment. This abandoned and contaminated 0.7-acre industrial property was made ready for a new commercial developer, promising and delivering new jobs and economic growth to the surrounding downtown neighborhood. The assessment was made possible under a $200,000 EPA Assessment Grant awarded to the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission in Woodstock, Vermont.

Rail Road Row Street Sign

The original building, at 25 Rail Road Row in the heart of Hartford's Central Business District, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places due to its structure and history. The old building, which stood near the confluence of the White and Connecticut Rivers, operated as a feed and grain business until 1925, when it was taken over by Twin State Fruits. In its newer use, the building became an industrial cornucopia. An apple cellar, two banana ripening rooms, a wet refrigerator for vegetables, a canned storage area, a wine room and large freezers were all added to the original wood-framed building during the 60 years the company owned the property. The company, a warehouse and wholesale store, distributed fresh fruits and vegetables and frozen food from 1927 through 1989.

The property was then used for a half dozen years as the Twin State Restaurant Supply Co. When the supply company left in 1995, the building stood vacant and fell into disrepair. Only a front office space was occupied by a potential developer in 1997. This developer explored the possibility of transforming the site into an assisted living facility, but budget constraints, historic preservation issues and potential environmental contamination barred the way, and plans were abandoned.

Photo of Arch Bridge

According to the 2000 census, the town of Hartford has a population of over 8,200 people. About 8.5 percent of the residents live below the poverty level, and 2.2 percent are unemployed. This redevelopment brings new hope for the town's important and historic Central Business District to return to its rich and economically vibrant roots, through the efforts of the EPA, the town of Hartford, a private developer, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission.

The property underwent a site assessment in 2003, which uncovered the presence of environmental contamination. However, as the scope of that contamination became somewhat defined, cleanup costs were able to be estimated, lifting the stigma of “unknown” environmental contamination, and allowing the new developer to exercise their purchase option with an idea of redevelopment costs. The assessment uncovered the presence of three underground storage tanks, two of which still contained fuel oil, and also determined that additional tanks might be present as well as surficial contamination. Based on these findings, a limited subsurface environmental assessment was performed that documented several tanks, as well as asbestos, lead-based paint, and surficial contaminants including lead, arsenic, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and petroleum hydrocarbons, all associated with the nearby railroad. Armed with this assessment information, the new developer cleaned up the site, removing several tanks and excavating surface soil before constructing a new office building that will house up to 60 employees.

Click to enlarge photo

The new office building on the property is already nearly fully leased, and an adjacent property on Rail Road Row has since been demolished and replaced with a new office building, completing the renovation of what was almost a back alley into a vibrant downtown space.

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