Wait a Minute!

White Cap Business Park is just one of J. Graham Goldsmith’s bungee cord jumps

by Virginia Lindauer Simmon

white_cap_jgraham-goldsmith0319 J. Graham Goldsmith
Photo: J. Graham Goldsmith

When we featured architect Graham Goldsmith in October of 1990, White Cap Business Park was not even on his horizon. He had just finished renovating the former Burlington home of Lane Press, the Kilburn & Gates building, originally erected in 1869 as a furniture factory.

Goldsmith’s influence on Vermont can be encountered across the map. Working first for Wiemann-Lamphere, then his own firm, he was responsible for such Burlington landmarks as Court House Plaza, Richardson Place, and the Gideon King House on King Street; Winooski’s Champlain Mill; the old East State Street School building in Montpelier; and a series of medical buildings. At the time of our story, he also had a reputation for developing farmland while trying to keep it open and protected.

Kilburn & Gates remains home to a variety of tenants, including Goldsmith’s architectural firm, although his presence is more by phone these days — “I talk to them five times a day,” he says. His physical presence, however, spends six months on Jupiter Island, Florida; four months on Nantucket; and two months (divided) in Stowe, where he and his wife, Kitty, have a home.

“I do a lot of architecture out there,” he says when asked about Nantucket. “On my mom’s side, they’ve been going to Nantucket for six generations, and on my dad’s, more than that.”

Goldsmith founded an old-fashioned field club there, the Westmoor Club, which features 14 tennis courts, croquet lawns, two Olympic-size pools, fitness center, an 80-foot 1947 Trumpy yacht, and 480 members served by140 employees.

“One day,” he says, “I was looking for a site for a customer, who didn’t want this particular lot, and I realized it was part of a bigger plot of property. I thought, ‘Wait a minute! What a place for a club this would be!’ because the inn there was originally a Vanderbilt home built in 1910. I took a chance: a bungee cord off the bridge and hope the ropes hold.”

white_cap_whitecapatrium0319 White Cap’s skylighted atrium has what Graham calls “two little botanical gardens” and is a meeting place for the building.
Photo: Contributed Photo

In 1973, Rossignol established a subsidiary in Williston, where it manufactured skis until 1984, when it ceased manufacturing there but continued to use the property for warehousing, distribution, and sales. In 2005, Quicksilver Inc., which had purchased Rossignol and its sister company Dynastar Ski Co., closed it up and moved everything to Park City, Utah.

Like the Westmoor Club, White Cap Business Park came along “out of the blue,” says Goldsmith. “The firm I used to work for, Wiemann Lamphere, designed the building, and here we go years later, and I’m the one buying it.

“I knew Rossignol — a very good friend of mine, John Douglas, used to work there. It was an attractive property — trees around it; a big piece of land — and I said, ‘Something could happen with this!’” He bought the property in 2007.

Goldsmith wasn’t sure at first what direction to take the 140,000-square-foot structure, he says: “Would it be for storage? A place to get your tires changed? A UPS store? All of a sudden we got one tenant that really wanted more of an upscale design, and I said, ‘Wait a minute! Let’s take this a different direction.’

“Yves Bradley of Pomerleau was the Realtor involved primarily, along with Steve Donahue,” Goldsmith says. “Norm Stanislas of T&M Construction and Development has been our contractor and contributed a great deal to the project.”

The building could be “pretty gloomy” in the middle, says Goldsmith, with no natural light available. “I put in two little botanical gardens with a large skylight and plantings and water squirting around. It became a meeting place in the building.” The design for offices, he adds, followed, with green building standards and requirements. “It suddenly became a much higher-end project than I originally envisioned.”

Goldsmith and his son Graham came up with the name White Cap to reflect their love for mountains and skiing and their love for boating, he says. “It just sounded like a fun name.”

And appropriate, it turns out, as it’s home to several fitness- and health-related tenants. That gave us at Business People the idea of pulling out four of them for interviews. (There’s a more complete tenant list in the sidebar.)

white_cap_vbt_office0319 VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations/Country Walkers
Photo: VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations/Country Walkers

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations|Country Walkers

Owned by Xanterra Parks & Resorts, a Colorado-based company that purchased it in 2012, VBT had been in Bristol for many years before moving to White Cap in 2016. The move was precipitated by the acquisition of Country Walkers, whose offices were in Waterbury. Larger quarters were sought that would be equidistant from the two former locations.

“We had a call center in Williston,” says Mike Stancliffe, vice president of finance. “White Cap had a lot of the design features we were looking for. A large part of the first floor has an open concept, given the cubicles are more like spokes off of a hub — maybe even spokes off of a bicycle hub,” he quips. “There may be a semicircle of four or five people that work in one, so it’s not like conventional cubicles.”

A skylighted lounge with tables and chairs in the middle of an open space can host corporate events, anniversaries, and holiday gatherings or collaboration sessions during the day. “It’s our very own, and right in the middle of this huge space is a giant skylight. When we’re not having events,” says Stancliffe, “there are tables and chairs and eco-friendly things such as plants put strategically to guide traffic.”

“Upstairs,” says Caroline Jalbert, the project manager, “is a huge common kitchen area and a big space to use for yoga once a week and meetings company-wide. Also are two conference rooms, our own air booking agents, and our sales and customer service agents. Downstairs, we have the common area, eight private offices for the executive team, then two small conference rooms, one large common sitting area, three table/desk/book areas, and standing desks for all of our staff.”

According to Eric Deziel, vice president of marketing, VBT and Country Walkers take 50,000 people a year on tours. “They’re amazing trips. We take care of air fare, hotel, and food, and allow them to have an active vacation.”

Employees number 80 full-timers, with about 65 in the Williston space and others working overseas or in home offices. Jalbert proudly says that the dual company has been named one of the Best Places to Work in Vermont for the second consecutive year.

One thing Deziel especially appreciates is the ability to use the gym at Synergy Fitness and the convenience of having “a great little healthy café” (Simply Healthy Café) on the property.

white_cap_synergy0319 Synergy Fitness
Photo: Synergy Fitness

Synergy Fitness

Synergy Fitness has an interesting story, says Jan Riordan, the general manager. It involves another Goldsmith “wait a minute” moment.

“In the fall of 2009, there were a couple — boyfriend and girlfriend — who opened it at White Cap,” says Riordan. “They kept it there about four years, and then decided to move to Arizona. So Graham said, ‘OK: I have a fitness club but owners who didn’t want to stay around.’ He decided to take it over and reached out to me.

“I was at the YMCA at the time and just back from New Mexico. I had been with Racquet’s Edge for 32 years. That’s why I love Synergy so much — I’ve gone full circle.

“It’s just been incredible,” she says. “There’s always a new twist, especially these days, in the fitness industry. With our base of membership, we’re able to program so many different things — our members are there for their health. They’re dedicated to becoming more interested in nutrition, exercise, kinesiology.”

Synergy has 12,500 square feet encompassing Nautilus, Life Fitness circuit training equipment, cardio with personalized TVs on each piece of equipment, and a variety of free weights. “Then a beautiful group fitness studio, all sorts of classes. Really popular are yoga and barre, then Zumba, Pound, Total Fit, about 40 classes a week. There’s a spin studio next door,” Riordan says.

“And the space is just gorgeous — spotless. You go out after work and it can be a scary world, but in our little cocoon, it’s very nice.”

PT360’s 30-foot salt water pool
Photo: PT360

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PT360

The physical therapy space at White Cap is one of four PT360 locations. The others are in Shelburne (also in a Goldsmith-developed location), Burlington, and a South Burlington location that opened this month. Mary Steiger, PT, is president of what she says is “the first and only employee-owned physical therapy cooperative in the country.”

Steiger has been a member of the American Physical Therapy Association for over 30 years and has served on the advisory board of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at The University of Vermont.

PT360 has been at White Cap since 2010, says Steiger. “It was our second location. We were looking for a location where we could design and develop our own space, and it had to be big enough to be able to put a 30-foot salt water pool in it.

“We knew White Cap was the original Rossignol building, and there was a piece on the end where they ground the skis — 5,200 square feet of space that had not been occupied since Rossignol had moved.

“For us that was wonderful, because it gave us the ability to design the space the way we wanted it, and we were able to use the natural light of the space. Living in a state that’s cloudy a lot, that’s a very healing factor.”

Using a connecting hallway and door to Synergy Fitness, patients can use Synergy’s equipment when they reach the point where they can do that. Synergy offers PT360 patients a discounted membership when they’ve finished their physical therapy.

The “360” part of the name came from the 360 degrees of care provided, says Steiger. That includes prescreening, at no cost; skilled treatments — “We have 25 specialty treatments under one roof,” she says — and post treatment. “We have a therapeutic yoga class for patients, an Ai Chi class, and a drench class.”

Dragonheart Vermont

Dragonheart Vermont sponsors the annual Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival, where people in the community team up to race dragon boats for charity. Originally a breast cancer survivor team program, its activities have broadened over the years. The organization’s 200 members make up 10 teams with national and world championships.

Dragonheart has used its 1,696-square-foot space at White Cap for 17 years, at first for operating its wellness program, Survivorship Now, says Nina Atkinson, executive director. “That consisted of multiple programs for breast cancer and cancer survivors including free yoga, exercise, and education for community survivors.”

The Survivorship Now program was closed down a couple of years ago, and the organization now uses the space for meetings and off-season team training programs. These include using Concept2 Erg rowing machines and strength, endurance, and weight training and conditioning.

“We like it here because it’s convenient for folks in the Burlington area,” says Atkinson. “And there’s parking!” •