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Burlington Officials Hear New Plan For Redevelopment Of Former Moran Plant

Moran Plant from south
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Moran Plant from south

Despite the threat of demolition, a new plan to redevelop an old power plant on Burlington’s waterfront may be on the table. A concept plan was presented to the City Council of Vermont’s largest city Monday night.
The Moran Plant began operating in 1954 as a coal fired electric plant and in 1977 converted to woodchips. The facility on the Burlington waterfront was decommissioned in 1986.  Since then city officials have considered potential renovation and reuse of the building but nothing has come to fruition.
In the spring of 2014 a resolution was put before voters — the city would try one last time to find a way to renovate the property or it would be demolished.  
Mayor Miro Weinberger explained by August 2017 it had been determined that redevelopment plans weren’t viable, but demolition was also too expensive.  “We did not see it being viable to go once again and seek a full adaptive reuse of the building. It was something that had been tried for the better part of 30 years and we committed not to do that again. And since this demolition option was extraordinarily expensive we’ve been exploring whether there’s something else that could be considered. And I’m excited that we are bringing a new option that stabilizes the site and really turns what is today widely perceived as an eyesore into an iconic landmark on the Burlington waterfront.”

Full demolition remains an option but that would leave a concrete slab or an open field with limited development potential.  CEDO (Community and Economic Development Office) Interim Director Neale Lunderville presented the city council with a proposal for the Moran Building they are calling FRAME.  “The FRAME concept is a partial demolition. We’re really peeling back the brick on at least three sides to show the structural steel armature, the superstructure of this building. We do this while retaining Moran’s distinctive tiered shape.”

Burlington voters approved $5.4 in Tax Increment Funding to craft a final redevelopment of the property, which must be bonded by the end of 2019. The proposal is based on that funding. Councilors, including Kurt Wright, are intrigued.  “I think it is a interesting and unique proposal to start out with  that has me thinking about supporting this rather than just going for demolition.”

Although it’s just an initial concept, councilors still had a number of questions. South District Democrat Joan Shannon had not favored demolition.  “For the $4.4 million that we can afford how much of the things that we’re seeing can we get and how much are things that are possibilities for down the road?”

The concept emphasizes a connection to the waterfront, adjacent parks and bike path. Ward 7 Democrat/Progressive Ali Dieng praised how the openwork design creates another connection.  “You’re connected to the earth. You see the sky. You’re connected to the water. You’re connected to the air, the trees. Think about it that way. You’re connected to nature.”

City councilors voted unanimously to move the Moran Plant FRAME concept design to the Parks Arts and Culture Committee for further discussion.

Audio is courtesy of the live webstream provided by Channel 17 Town Meeting Television.

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