Fire Will Delay Opening of New Morrisville Affordable Housing Complex | Development | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Fire Will Delay Opening of New Morrisville Affordable Housing Complex


Published July 5, 2022 at 2:12 p.m.

The fire-damaged building - COURTESY OF JIM LOVINSKY
  • Courtesy of Jim Lovinsky
  • The fire-damaged building
A weekend fire at an affordable housing complex under construction in Morrisville will delay the opening of the building indefinitely as crews assess the smoke and water damage.

No one was injured in the blaze, which broke out in the first-floor office of the unoccupied Village Center Apartments building on Sunday morning.

The 24-unit complex was on track for a late summer opening, but work has been halted while inspectors determine the cause of the fire and the development team figures out next steps, said Jim Lovinsky, executive director of the Lamoille Housing Partnership, which owns the structure.

“It’s disappointing for sure and pretty distressing,” he said on Tuesday.

In addition to being a source of desperately needed affordable housing in the area, the building was noteworthy because it was designed to be heated entirely by efficient electric heat pumps. In a June 29 story, Seven Days featured the complex as an example of new developments that are using energy efficient heating and cooling systems.
Contractors had gone home for Fourth of July weekend, and no one was working on the downtown site at the time of the fire, Lovinsky said.

Emergency dispatchers received a report shortly after 8 a.m. of black smoke pouring from the building, according to the Vermont Community Newspaper Group, which first reported on the incident.

Nearly 50 firefighters from Morrisville, Hyde Park and Stowe helped battle the fire, the Lamoille Housing Partnership said in a press release. Photos that Lovinsky took that morning show the building’s unfinished exterior scorched black above first-story windows.

The blaze broke out in an office that initially will provide intake services for new residents. The eventual plan is to rent the space for commercial use, Lovinsky said.
  • File: Kevin Mccallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Jim Lovinsky
The room was largely complete when Seven Days toured the building in June, and it contained desks and office chairs. Workers may also have been storing tools in the space, Lovinsky said.

While the fire was contained to the first floor, smoke damage could prove more extensive and difficult to remediate, Lovinsky said. The kind of thick black smoke the fire produced tends to stick to surfaces, and the odor can be difficult to remove, he said.

“We’re going to have to reset the schedule,” Lovinsky said.

In its statement, the organization thanked the firefighters who contained the blaze, the person who reported it, and others who have stepped forward to help.

"We are so grateful to be part of this caring community," the statement read.