copyright the Chronicle April 5, 2017
by Joseph Gresser
ST. ALBANS CITY — The St. Albans City Hall is an elegant structure, dating from the time it was known as the Railroad City. The high ceilings and tall wooden doors are indications of a past when citizens flaunted their community’s wealth through architecture.
Today city hall has just undergone a $2.3-million renovation and emerged as a stunning reminder of the past and a declaration of St. Albans’ present day ambitions.
City Manager Dominick Cloud has an office on the second floor looking out over Main Street. From his window he can point to a pair of the projects that are part of the city’s plan to remake itself. To the left, Mr. Cloud can point to a large Ace Hardware store.
He explained that the city bought the land where the store is, tore down a vacant building, and found a buyer, who was looking to expand an existing store.
To the left, Mr. Cloud indicated an empty lot and three vacant buildings that he hopes will soon get the same treatment.
The two examples hint at the larger strategy the city has been putting into practice over the past several years, taking calculated risks designed to expand St. Alban’s Grand List and make the downtown look sharper and more welcoming.
So far, Mr. Cloud said, St. Albans has invested $16-million and added $50-million to the Grand List.
“It’s a pretty good return,” he conceded.
St. Albans’ track record has certainly caught the eye of leaders in Newport, who hope to make use of the lessons it has learned as they look for ways to reinvigorate their city’s downtown.
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