Burlington, Vermont’s mayor announced a settlement today with the developers of a downtown project that has been stalled for years.
In late 2014 a multimillion dollar redevelopment plan called CityPlace was proposed to replace a 1970’s era mall in the center of Burlington’s downtown. In December 2017, the Town Center Mall was demolished. No other work has occurred on the site since then.
The city filed suit against BTC Mall Associates in September alleging breach of contract.
Friday morning, Democratic Mayor Miro Weinberger announced that a settlement had been reached with the developers that he says guarantees critical elements of the original agreement. “This settlement creates a way for the city to both hold the developers accountable for the past while also creating a path for the project to move forward. No matter what happens going forward with the project the city will get our streets. The developer’s success ultimately will mean hundreds of new homes, jobs and activity in the heart of our city.”
Mayor Weinberger, a Democrat running for a fourth term next month, outlined key elements in the settlement agreement. “This settlement guarantees the reconnection of lost streets. A second major highlight: the settlement creates additional security to insure that the new streets will be built at no cost to taxpayers regardless of the progress on the development. When the project moves forward the settlement requires the developer to repay $150,000 a year in lost property taxes to the city’s Tax Increment Financing district that had resulted from the project’s unanticipated delays. These payments have an estimated value of $300,000 to $450,000 depending on when the construction begins. Four: all the risks of construction and development will remain the responsibility of the developer and the developer will remain committed to the numerous provisions within the agreement that benefit the community such as the affordable housing requirements.”
Pine and St. Paul streets were split when the Burlington Town Center was built in the 1970s. City Planning Director David White says reconnecting the roads has been a priority since the downtown-waterfront master plan approved in 2013 and is integral to the CityPlace development. “Restoration of Pine Street in particular will restore a complete north-south connection between Pearl and Main Streets relieving pressure on South Winooski and Battery (streets). Just as importantly these new street segments will double the opportunities for new shops and restaurants halfway between the (Church Street) Marketplace and the lake.”
The settlement will be presented to the City Council for review at its meeting on Monday and approval at its February 16th meeting.