Developers of a new multi-use building in downtown Winooski, Vermont are offering a potential game-changer for someone looking to start or expand a small business: free rent.
The City Lights building is scheduled to open on East Allen Street in the summer of 2017. It's currently under construction.
The builders are offering 463 square feet of commercial space on the ground floor rent-free to a business. Whoever is chosen to receive free rent will be responsible for all utilities, according to the request for proposals.
After the first year, the developers' goal is to have the business become a long-term paying tenant.
"It's sort of our way to give back and to make sure that space is filled and also be successful for the Winooski community," said real estate developer Jacquie Dagesse, of the Dagesse Company. "In that first year of business, cash flow can be a real challenge. So if we can help with cash flow concerns for a startup or an expanding business in that first year, it really could make a big difference."
Dagesse told necn that a food or beverage company, such as a sandwich shop or a tap room, would be a good fit for the busy neighborhood.
The City Lights property is next to the Community College of Vermont. It is within walking distance from a parking garage, close to on-street parking, and will have a limited number of parking spaces, Dagesse noted.
The Dagesse Company is now accepting business proposals for the free year of commercial rent. More information is available here.
While City Lights also will have residential space in the upper levels, the offer of one year of free rent only applies to the ground-level commercial space, Dagesse noted.
This is not the first time the developers have given away something free. This summer, a historic house that used to sit on the City Lights land was moved from Winooski to Burlington, instead of being torn down.
The City Lights developers gave the house away free, with its new owner paying for the majority of the costs of the move.