Northern Stage Theater to Build Apartments for Staff in White River Junction | Off Message

Northern Stage Theater to Build Apartments for Staff in White River Junction


Northern Stage in White River Junction - COURTESY OF RACHEL WILLIAMSON
  • Courtesy of Rachel Williamson
  • Northern Stage in White River Junction
Northern Stage, a nonprofit theater company in White River Junction, plans to build 15 apartments for its workers and visiting artists on a site that the theater purchased on Monday.

The new property is half a block down the street from the theater. It was previously the home of an insurance company that moved out in 2018. The buildings on-site will be demolished to make way for the new apartments.

Founded in 1997, Northern Stage employs 40 people full time and draws about 250 artists each year on short-term contracts.

The theater company owns 15 homes and apartments in Quechee and White River Junction that it rents to staff at 30 percent lower than market value, said Ryan Klink, the company’s director of sales and marketing. Northern Stage also rents 14 apartments in the area because the company is contractually obligated to provide housing for its visiting artists, he said.

Klink said it’s not yet clear when construction of the new building — which is also expected to include rehearsal and studio space — will start, or how much the project will cost. But he expects groundbreaking to be at least a year away.

“We’re going to be entering a fundraising stage, and it’s going to be a multiyear campaign,” Klink said. Once the new building is ready, Northern Stage will vacate the 14 apartments it's renting now.
White River Junction, a village in the town of Hartford, is experiencing the  housing shortage felt around the region. Many employers, including nearby Dartmouth Hitchcock medical center, have said that housing issues have made it more difficult to recruit workers.

In December 2020, there were 71 new pending home sales in Windsor County. But in December 2021, there were just 21 — a drop of 70 percent, according to a recent market report from the Vermont Association of Realtors. 

While many employers have looked for ways to ease the tight housing market, few have taken the step of buying property to build more homes.

“It’s definitely not what we started out to do, was to be landlords,” Klink said. “It’s a totally different field than producing nonprofit theater.”

But, he added, buying or building housing is something that many other regional theaters have done for years. And Northern Stage has received valuable help from the board’s housing committee members, many of whom are in the real estate business, Klink said.

“They have years and years of experience in this, and have been with us every step of the way,” he said. “We have learned a lot.”

Correction, March 31, 2022: A previous version of this story, and its headline, incorrectly reported the number of apartments Northern Stage plans to build. It also incorrectly reported Northern Stage's number of staff and the number of homes the company owns in the region.

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