Updated City Hall Park Plans Unveiled

At a presentation Monday night, city officials unveiled their updated vision for City Hall Park.

The new plans for the downtown park includes a spray fountain, additional seating, a bathroom and bike parking. It eliminates a section of diagonal pathway following input from the public and historic preservationists.

Plans to update City Hall Park have been in the works since 2011, as City officials sought to make the park more welcoming to residents. Downtown Burlington’s only park is also in need of landscaping work. Currently several trees need to be replaced and much of the park features stretch of dirt where grass is unable grow due to shade.

Several criminal incidences have occurred as well, something that the new design aims to correct.

“We do think this renovation will increase the usage of the park by the entire public and we think that will have some positive impact in terms of behavior in the park.” said Mayor Miro Weinberger.

Monday’s meeting included a lengthy public comment period for community members to give their thoughts about project. City officials will bring the new plans for permit review, with an eye toward construction beginning in early 2019.

 

2017 Seven Daysies Recognize BBA Members

35 BBA member businesses have been recognized as part of the 2017 Seven Daysies. The annual awards celebrate great shops, restaurants, bars, businesses and more, all voted on by the readers of Seven Days.

This is the 15th year the Seven Daysies have been handed out and BBA members have consistently been a presence throughout the history of the awards. In total 9,385 people cast 572,306 individual votes in 172 different categories.

We congratulate all of our member businesses who were recognized this year and encourage people to patronize these fantastic local businesses. Check out the full list of winners.

 

BTC Redevelopment Meeting Notes

Individuals who were unable to attend the July 20th meeting hosted by City officials regarding the Burlington Town Center redevelopment, can now access that meeting’s notes and presentation online.

The purpose of the event was to have the developer’s project consultants, PC Construction, share the proposed Encumbrance Plan, which details the plans for managing the public right of way and parking in and around the project site (particularly along Bank and Cherry Streets) during demolition and construction for the duration of the redevelopment.

The construction phase of the project is set to begin in September, with the demolition of the Mall’s Cherry Street parking garage. The City of Burlington has committed to working with the local business community to keep them updated as more information becomes available.

Anyone with questions or comments should reach out to CEDO Director, Noelle MacKay at 802-865-7174 or [email protected] or CEDO Projects and Policy Specialist, Diana Colangelo at 802-865-7187 or [email protected] In addition to information about last month’s meeting, more information about the Burlington Town Center redevelopment can be found on the city’s website.

BTC Redevelopment Presentation

BTC Redevelopment Business Meeting Notes 

Breakfast With The Board Takes On VT’s Economic Future

What does Vermont need to do to ensure a prosperous future? Turns out the list of possible answers to that question is a long one.

 

This morning, our Silver & Platinum Members had the opportunity to attend our Breakfast with the Board event and take a in depth look at what the work of the Vermont Futures Project means for Burlington. The Vermont Futures Project has been working to establish an “Economic Dashboard” with key indicators to show how our state is fairing across various sectors, such as workforce, demographics, infrastructure, quality of place, and more.

While the state is doing relatively well in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship, and quality of place, the current numbers do not bode so well for workforce & talent (our population is the second oldest in the country, and in the next 20 years a majority of our current workers will retire), our Demographics (Median household income is ranked 14th nationally), and our tax base growth has been relatively flat, leaving a lack of funding for infrastructure & investment.

Event attendees were tasked with brainstorming ideas for how Burlington can tackle the areas that are in need of growth. Despite an early morning (7:30 am!) start, the dialogue quickly grew lively and groups exchanged ideas that ranged from setting up an alumni recruitment program to bring VT grads back to their home state, to setting up a communications campaign with resources and success stories of those who have moved to Vermont and found a home here that are thriving in. The need for housing and a lower cost of living was a target that generated a lot of conversation, and inspired ideas that included simplifying the permitting process and asking each city and town to set their own annual goal for new units and track progress with a “goal thermometer”.

The BBA will take the list of ideas generated back to the Board of Directors at this Fall’s strategic planning session, and will be seeking to work with the VT Futures Project on moving forward with actionable initiatives that can help Burlington and Vermont achieve a prosperous future.

Check out the website here: www.vtfuturesproject.com Special thanks to Bill Shouldice and Betsy Bishop of the Vermont Chamber for partnering, and to Hilton Garden Inn Burlington VT for hosting!

BTC Construction Meeting

City officials and Devonwood’s project Consultant, PC Construction will hold an information session for downtown businesses set to be impacted by Burlington Town Center Construction. Businesses within the redevelopment area are invited to meet with officials, Thursday, July 20th at noon inside Burlington City Art’s Lorraine B. Good room.

The developer has provided a proposed Encumbrance Plan to the Department of Public Works for the City detailing the plans for managing the public right of way and parking in and around the project site (particularly along Bank and Cherry Streets) during demolition and construction for the duration of the redevelopment.

This meeting is designed as an opportunity for direct discussions with involved parties. Local Businesses will have the opportunity to hear a presentation from PC Construction about the proposed Encumbrance Plan, ask questions, and share feedback. You’ll also hear how the City plans to maintain communication with businesses throughout the project, and how you can reach out with questions and concerns moving forward.

If you have any questions, please contact either Noelle MacKay, Director of the Community & Economic Development Office, at [email protected] or 802-865-7174, or Diana Colangelo, Projects & Policy Specialist at CEDO, at 802-865-7187 or [email protected].

Shireen Hart Named Board of Directors Vice Chair

The Burlington Business Association (BBA) is excited to announce that Shireen Hart of Primmer, Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC has been appointed to the position of Vice Chair of the BBA’s Board of Directors.

Hart has been an active member of the BBA Board since 2015, and serves on the BBA’s Governance Committee. An attorney with Primmer Piper Eggleston & Cramer PC, Hart serves as counsel to hospitals, long-term care facilities, community mental health agencies, pharmacies, and other individual and organizational health care interests.

Hart takes over as Vice Chair from Russ Scully of Scully Interactive, who has been Board Chair since April.

In addition to her role with the BBA, Hart has been on the Board of the KidSafe Collaborative of Chittenden County since 2006, and currently serves as its President. She lives in the New North End of Burlington with her husband Chip and their two boys.

The Burlington Business Association Board of Directors currently has 19 members. Recently, the BBA welcomed Stephen Barraclough, Kyle Bostwick, Chelsea Condos and Justin Heilenbach as its newest board members.

 

BBA Joins State Coalition to Uphold Paris Climate Accord

BBA Executive Director Kelly Devine was among many local business owners, organizations and politicians yesterday afternoon for the launch of the Vermont Climate Pledge Coalition.

This new coalition, consisting of organizations from around Vermont will work to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, including a reduction of greenhouse gases emitted by 26-28% by 2025. The Coalition will be coordinated by the City of Burlington, will compliment steps already being taken at the state level. 

As its initial actions steps, the coalition will looks to grow it’s membership, collect voluntary pledges from across the State, and work to establish analytics to track progress. The group will also work to encourage short, medium, and long-term efforts that may include: encouraging transportation alternatives; producing and building a supply chain of locally-sourced goods to minimize the use of transportation emissions necessary to get the goods to market; composting in the backyard; weatherizing homes; and implementing energy efficiency measures. 

Part of the agreement will see the City convene a Climate Summit this fall to create Vermont’s Climate Pledge for Paris. This will be Vermont’s attempt to adhere to the Paris climate agreement, which the federal government recently backed out of.

The City of Burlington has a long history of working toward a sustainable future, having already become the first city in the country to source 100% of its energy from renewable sources. Currently, Burlington is trying to become a net zero energy city. This process includes studying the feasibility of district energy in Burlington, 13 new electric vehicle charging stations, and new programs to help residents make their homes more efficient.

The BBA is excited to support this partnership between state and local government, non-profits and the local business community. These steps will not only fight climate change, but increase economic vitality. Currently the BBA is working on it’s own summit to educate our membership on some of the innovative active transportation work underway in our area.

BBA Welcomes New Board Members

 

The Burlington Business Association (BBA) is excited to welcome Stephen Barraclough, General Manager, Burlington Telecom, Kyle Bostwick, Vice President, Vermont Lake Monsters, Chelsea Condos, Senior Manager, Gallagher, Flynn & Co. and Justin Heilenbach, President of Citizen Cider as new members of the BBA Board of Directors.

“These amazing additions to our Board of Directors will help support BBA’s mission of stewarding and promoting Burlington’s economic vitality”, stated Executive Director Kelly Devine. In representing a wide range of business types, they will help the BBA speak more strongly for Burlington.

Stephen Barraclough joined Burlington Telecom in March of 2010 as a consultant working for Dorman and Fawcett and was named Interim General Manager in September of that year. Stephen has held senior financial and operational positions across several industries, including Menswear Apparel Manufacturing in NY and NJ, CFO of a Media Company listed on the London Stock Exchange, and worldwide CFO for EMI Music based in NY. Prior to joining D&F in 2009 he led a number of acquisitions, integrations and operational and financial restructuring in Europe and the US.

Kyle Bostwick has worked in Minor League Baseball for over 20 years, starting with the Vermont Expos in 1994. Kyle previously served as General Manager of the Triple-A Ottawa Lynx. While there, the organization was named 2002 United Way Ottawa Small Business of the Year. Since Bostwick’s return to Vermont, the Lake Monsters have seen increases in attendance, overall revenue and community support, as well as earning the NY-PENN League Leo Pinckney Promotional Award in 2014. Bostwick also serves on the BBA’s Education Programs Sub-Committee.

Chelsea Condos is a seasoned tax accountant who returned to Vermont recently to work at Gallagher Flynn after spending 13 years at KPMG in Atlanta and Boston. Condos has extensive experience working with real estate companies, including developers, investment firms and construction companies. She holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in business administration/accounting with a specialty in tax accounting from Georgia State University. In addition to her role on the BBA’s Board of Directors, she is a member of AICPA and the Vermont Society of CPAs. She lives in the Mayfair neighborhood of South Burlington with her husband and two children, ages three and a half and one and a half.

A native of Illinois, Justin Heilenbach discovered cider making on small farm outside of Portland, Oregon. In 2010 he co-founded Citizen Cider with partners Brian Holmes and Kris Nelson. The growing company relocated to their current location on Pine Street in Burlington’s South End in April of 2014. The facility, which includes a tasting room and kitchen, has become popular destination for both locals and visitors. In six short years Citizen Cider has become one of the largest regional cider brands in the country and one of Vermont’s largest fruit buyers. In addition to his work with Citizen Cider, Justin is also on the board of the Flynn Theater, and a volunteer with Burlington American Little League. He currently resides in the South End with his wife Terra, and their three sons.

The BBA is a member organization made up of Burlington based businesses that advocates on behalf of Burlington’s business community. Our alliance of more than 260 diverse businesses shares the goal of stewarding and promoting Burlington’s economic vitality.

Clockwise From the Top Left: Stephen Barraclough, Kyle Bostwick, Justin Heilenbach, Chelsea Condos

Judges Uphold Burlington Town Center Project

The Burlington community received good news on the Burlington Town Center redevelopment. The judges in two separate lawsuits ruled on behalf of moving the project forward. The BBA remains strongly in support of redevelopment our 1970’s mall and reconnecting our downtown street grid.

TIF APPEAL DISMISSAL ON 3 OF 4 ACCOUNTS

On Friday, Vermont Superior Court Judge Robert Mello dismissed three of four counts raised in an appeal on the grounds that they had no legal basis. The appeal related to the public vote on Tax Increment Financing (TIF)funding for the reopening of Pine Street and Saint Paul Street to public use. Judge Mello has not yet ruled on a fourth complaint in the appeal.

Burlington attorney John Franco who is currently leading three separate lawsuits against the city relating to the BTC project has said that he will appeal Judge Mello’s dismissal to the state supreme court once the fourth complaint is adjudicated.

BTC CAN BEGIN CONSTRUCTION

In one of those cases, environmental court Judge Thomas Walsh did not grant a stay that would have prevented construction from beginning this summer. On Monday, the judge ruled that the appeal was not strong enough to justify the financial harm that would’ve meant for developer Don Sinex.

Sinex plans to begin construction on the project in early July, while Judge Thomas deliberates on whether the project fits city zoning regulations.

Lead Architect Jesse Beck Repudiates False CLC Claim

Jesse Beck, AIA, NCARB, President of Freeman, French & Freeman has provided a statement to dispute recent comments made by a Coalition for Livable City supporter in regards to the Burlington Town Center redevelopment.

“It is irresponsible to provide unfounded accusations of fraud and lying, and yet the harm is done when the public reads the headline, skims the piece, and loses confidence in the project or the process. This project has gone through dozens and dozens of public meetings, multiple votes at City boards, City Council, and our ballot boxes.” said Beck in a statement.

Beck’s comments are in response to a recent editorial which made incorrect claims about the project’s height and massing in architectural renderings.

In addition to other criticisms, Beck points out the author, “fails to mention that the landscape architect who raised the question about the Google Earth image admitted that he was unaware of the shadow studies and, once he had reviewed them and taken the time to understand what they present, agreed they were accurate.”

Having already received its necessary local permits, the Burlington Town Center redevelopment currently sits before the State environmental court as part of an appeal from members of the Coalition for a Livable City. On November 8th, Burlington voters supported two ballot measures needed for construction in a vote that was widely seen as a referendum on the project.

The Burlington Town Center redevelopment stands to have a significant positive impact on the economic vitality of Burlington with the addition of 272 units of housing in the downtown. In addition, completion of the project will see 230,000 square feet of office space and the reopening of two streets currently blocked by the mall.