How the Essex separation will impact local businesses

ESSEX, Vt. (WCAX) – The Essex Experience has been going through a renaissance over the past few years and the owner says it’s intentional.

Now, arguably the most popular spot in the town of Essex will face the tax implications of their separation from the village.

“When the Village leaves the city is going to take 42% of the property tax base with it,” explained Andrew Watts, the Essex Selectboard Chair.

He estimates property taxes will rise about 20% once its separation from the Village is complete in July.

Watts says there’s been little conversation about whether this will influence businesses to move elsewhere.

“I guess it’s a possibility,” Watts speculated. “There will be individual households who can’t afford the tax increases as well, so I don’t know. It’s likely. ”

Owner of the Essex Experience, Peter Edelmann, said they’re doing everything to protect businesses during the split.

“I’m structuring all of my leases in a way that they wouldn’t be impacted by that. I’ll take on that burden and if I’m right then we all win, ”Edelmann said.

He’s owned the outlets for 27 years. At one point, the property was dominated by big box stores, but he’s recently pivoted to a local focus and wants it to stay that way.

“There’s so much talent in Vermont and in all the different categories that we have here at the Essex Experience and I think when people come to Vermont they’re looking for something authentic,” Edelmann explained.

However, the focus on locality is also attracting new businesses, like Bramble. Owner Shawn Hyer and his wife spent years focusing on restaurant ventures across the country before their returning home state of Vermont. They say the local aspect of Essex Experience was a major draw.

“We’re lucky to be part of this rebirth, this regeneration that is giving an opportunity to a lot of small Vermont businesses,” Hyer said. Everyone that’s here, all of our neighbors are all small independent Vermont family owned businesses and so are our producers. ”

Three more businesses are expected to open at the Essex Experience in the coming months.

The Town of Essex will be hosting a strategic planning session this Saturday at 10 am to talk about taxes and other changes coming to the community as a result of the separation.

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