Vermont is one of the only states in the country without a governor’s mansion. But a gubernatorial “cabin” looks to be nearing completion off a rural back road in East Montpelier.
Gov. Peter Shumlin in June purchased a 27-acre parcel, saying the lot would be the future site of a “really energy-efficient governor’s cabin.” The Democrat, who lived in Putney before winning the state’s top elected office, has been staying in a rented home in Montpelier for the bulk of his first term.
Asked in June when the home would be built, Shumlin said, “Whenever we get around to it.” As the nearly 2,200-square-foot abode nears completion, Shumlin is declining to speak publicly about when, or even if, he’ll be moving in.
“The governor is happy to talk about all aspects of his public life,” Shumlin campaign manager Alex MacLean said Tuesday. “But his private life is just that — private.”
Zoning permits and real estate transactions on file at the East Montpelier town
office detail plans for the “single-family dwelling.” The name of the landowner is listed as “Foster Road LLC,” a limited liability corporation set up by Shumlin to facilitate the purchase, according to MacLean.
She said the governor forms LLCs for all his property transactions as a means of protecting his assets from any future claims made against the property.
Shumlin’s East Montpelier lot was subdivided from a 182-acre farm that was purchased by his friends on the same day Shumlin closed on his land. Property transfer tax returns indicate that Shumlin paid $35,000 for his 26.6 acres.
That’s quite a deal, for these parts especially. And a town lister last month pegged the value much higher.
According to town records, the 24.6 acres surrounding Shumlin’s new home is assessed at $61,100. The structure, and the two acres immediately around it, according to town records, are valued at an additional $145,600 in the assessment dated Sept. 21.
MacLean said the purchase price negotiated by Shumlin was based on a property appraisal commissioned by the previous owners. She said Shumlin and his friends used that earlier appraisal to calculate a price per acre that resulted in the final sale price of $35,000.
The friends paid $630,000 for their 154-acre portion of the original farm, plus its buildings.
According to a list of assets he disclosed voluntarily in 2010, Shumlin owns 17 properties valued at more than $4.5 million combined. Many of those holdings include rental properties that yielded about $617,000 in income in 2009, according to Shumlin’s tax records. His income from those properties has dropped off precipitously since, according to Shumlin’s most recent tax returns. He credited a sour rental market for the downturn.
But Shumlin said in June that this latest purchase isn’t an investment opportunity, but a place to put down roots for the duration of his gubernatorial tenure, however long it may last.
According to Shumlin’s most recent tax filings, he still claims legal residence in Putney. Shumlin and his wife, Deborah Holway, have been separated since at least 2010; he has said they remain close friends.