- James Buck
- Erik Hoekstra, managing partner of Redstone in front of Jake's ONE Market in Burlington
To solve both problems, he turned to Mascoma, which at the time was looking to expand in Chittenden County. Hoekstra knew the project was the perfect fit.
Redstone, which builds and manages real estate properties, owns 500 residential units, 600 beds of student housing, two hotels and about a million square feet of retail, office and warehouse space in greater Burlington. Forty-two-year-old Hoekstra, a Chicago native who came to Vermont by way of New York City, has been with Redstone for almost 15 years — most recently, as managing partner.
Jake’s ONE Market worked with Mascoma Community Development to finance tenant improvements for the grocery store using an innovative loan product. Then, at Hoekstra’s suggestion, the bank decided to set up shop inside the market. At the end of the frozen food aisle, by the checkout registers, is a full-service branch with a live teller and comfortable seating. Right outside is an ATM.
That’s convenient for the people who live across the street in Redstone apartments, also financed by Mascoma, above Sangha Studio yoga. Per city mandate, 15 percent of the units are considered “affordable.” Hoekstra said the bank made the project possible by agreeing to work with the Vermont Community Loan Fund and the EPA.
Although Redstone works with almost every financial institution in the area, “I like Mascoma because it’s local. Like other Vermont lenders, you can have a conversation with the real decision makers there. You’re not dealing with somebody who has to go up the ladder,” Hoekstra said. The result is: “They have the ability to be more flexible and creative.”
Burlington’s Hilton Garden Inn is a case in point. In 2001, Redstone started buying and developing properties within the downtown block once owned by the Howard Bank. It built the Hinds Lofts, collaborated with Champlain Housing Trust on what is now their headquarters and 20 affordable apartments. The hotel was next when “the world fell apart,” in 2008.
Hoekstra tried for years to get financing for the project, but “no one would touch it.”
Finally, in 2011, he got a chance to pitch a group of Mascoma bankers on a tour of the site. They approved. “Mascoma had the vision and was willing to give it a shot,” he said.
Even now, during the economic fallout from the pandemic, the relationship feels collaborative according to Hoekstra. “Until now I’d never experienced firsthand what older colleagues have told me: It’s really important to have the right bank when the s#*t hits the fan.”