BENNINGTON — The local Department of Motor Vehicles office will soon have a new home, state officials say.
The DMV site will move out of the shopping plaza on Depot Street to 532 Main St., the building currently occupied by Panache.
DMV Commissioner Robert Ide said the lease at 120 Depot St., a storefront the department has resided in since 2010, will end in January. The department is optimistic the move will be completed by then, Ide said.
State officials on Thursday said the move into a slightly larger space will mean people will have a better waiting area.
Parking at the Depot Street lot had become an issue, according to Allen Palmer, property management specialist with the state Department of Buildings and General Services (DBGS).
"At the new site, there's a pretty big parking lot out back, parking out front, handicap parking. It looks like it will work out well," Palmer said.
Crews will have to move and install work stations and build offices at the new space before the office opens, he said.
Panache, a women's clothing store with an eclectic mix of other items, has been at the Main Street storefront for 10 years and has occupied space downtown since 1985. Owner Nancy Woltman, who owns the building with her son, said last week that she aims to close the store by the end of September, and that she already had a new tenant. Woltman declined comment on Thursday.
Ide said the move is in line with the Gov. Peter Shumlin administration's efforts to invest and revitalize downtowns.
Retail areas, like those on Main Street, typically have a good amount of foot traffic and parking, and are easily accessible, said Bill Laferriere, director of DBGS' property management division.
That department is responsible for leasing and purchasing office and specialty space for state entities, Laferriere said. DBGS enters into lease agreements with property owners and acts as a landlord to whichever department occupies the space.
"We looked at a few different places," Laferriere said. "We had advertised a need for space, and talked to property owners and realtors, to get a good idea of what was available and to find a property that was a good match."
The Bennington DMV office has been at the shopping plaza at 120 Depot St., a former Aubuchon Hardware store, since early 2010. Before that, it was on North Street.
Aubuchon closed the store in 2007, but the company's realty arm still owns the plaza. In addition to the DMV, the three other tenants are the Family Dollar discount store, Hollister's Appliance, and Anytime Fitness.
Crews already have a floor plan for the 3,450-square-foot Main Street space, according to Allen Palmer, property management specialist with DBGS. That's a slight increase over the current office's 3,048 square feet.
"There will be a little more room for patrons, with a bigger waiting area," he said.
Palmer said the five existing work stations will be moved to Main Street. Work on the inside includes building some offices and a new bathroom, and installing new floors.
"We'll be leaving the ceiling the same as it is, with it showing the old factory style," he said. "It seems a shame to spend a lot of money to put up a drop ceiling and cover it up."
Planning Director Dan Monks said on Wednesday that no permit application had been submitted for the DMV project.
Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.