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Recent Developments Show Potential for Growth

Low unemployment and a robust list of projects on the table point to a possible boom in Chittenden County according to The July edition of Vermont Business Magazine. Key decisions by local political leadership will determine which projects get the green light.

The $187 million dollar Robert E. and Holly D. Miller Center at the University of Vermont Medical Center, the new STEM building at the University of Vermont, Global Foundries $27 million investment in the former IBM plant, and most recently the redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center are all cited as signs of growth in Vermont’s largest county.

Spearheaded by developer Don Sinex, the $200 million redevelopment of Burlington Town Center would total 1.34 million square feet. The project includes 340,000 square feet of office space, 246,000 square feet of retail and 274 residential units. The project would help to relieve the Burlington’s tight housing market, bring jobs downtown and support the live, work and play goals for downtown.

Despite these positive signs, the local business community faces challenges. While being home to over a quarter of Vermont’s population, Chittenden county lacks commercial and residential space, hampering potential growth.

In May, the Burlington City Council signed a pre-development agreement between the city and Sinex. For construction to begin, the city Planning Commission must okay a change to the current zoning code, to allow for the height of project.

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City Council Approves Burlington Harbor Marina Development Agreement

At the June 27th City Council meeting, a development agreement for the Burlington Harbor Marina was unanimously approved by Councilors. The proposed Burlington Harbor Marina will add a new private marina with up to 160 slips to the northern end of the waterfront, providing badly needed facilities that will bring boaters to Burlington’s waterfront and downtown.  This project has been moving forward through the public approval process; the development agreement approval is a significant green flag for the project.

The project would include a perimeter dock, interior docking and up to 160 boat slips, 40 percent of which would be reserved for “transient” boaters; the rest would be rented under long-term agreements. A floating marina building would contain restrooms, guest bathing and laundry facilities, offices, a store, and some sort of food and beverage service. There would be pump-out facilities for boats and a stand for a water taxi to shuttle people around the harbor.

From Vermont Business Magazine’s article on the project, “Burlington is the largest city on Lake Champlain but has the ninth largest marina. The City has had long waiting lists for slips for many years, and the lack of transient mooring options causes the City to turn away many would-be visitors every year.  Expanding the number of boat slips is an important strategy for creating economic opportunity and increasing the use of our waterfront.

Following approval of the Development Agreement by the City Council, the project will need to complete permitting with the Burlington Development Review Board, along with state and federal regulatory agencies. The marina developers expect to open the new slips and complete construction in 2018.”

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BBA Joins the Building Homes Together Coalition

The BBA joined the newly launched coalition, Building Homes Together, in support of the mission to build 3,500 new homes in Chittenden County over the next 5 years.

The new coalition, called Building Homes Together, was formed by the Champlain Housing Trust, Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission and Housing Vermont and released an initial list of nearly 100 community leaders supporting the effort.

“The housing shortage in Chittenden County has been well noted with unhealthy vacancy rates and high rents,” said Charlie Baker, Executive Director of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission. “Employers can’t find workers, and workers themselves spend more time in commutes and with a higher percentage of their paychecks on housing costs.” Twenty percent of the 3,500 goal are targeted to be developed by nonprofit housing organizations. The remainder by private developers. “This step-up in production will not just provide new homes and infrastructure for communities, it’ll be a boost to the economy and contribute to the tax base. Building homes together is a big win for all of us in Chittenden County,” said Nancy Owens, President of Housing Vermont.

The campaign will provide up-to-date data to the community on the need for and benefits of new housing, build cross-sector and public support for housing development, increasing access to capital, and supporting municipalities. Individuals, businesses or organizations that wish to sign on and participate in the campaign are encouraged to by sending an email to Chris Donnelly at Champlain Housing Trust ([email protected]).

The BBA has been advocating for more housing to relieve Burlington’s extremely low vacancy rate. The BBA is excited to be a part of this opportunity to collaborate with other organizations who are focused on this shared goal of increasing the housing supply.

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Facts about the BTC Mall Redevelopment

The redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center is an important project for the future economic vitality of Burlington. The development process is just beginning, and will include opportunities for public input at multiple points in the timeline. So that Burlington’s residents can be informed about the project, the Burlington Town Center’s team has put together a FAQ sheet that touches on many of the main points of the development project. This FAQ is a way to avoid mis-information being spread about this important project, and can help educate people so that everyone knows what the specifics of this project could entail.

The Burlington Town Center’s FAQ information is below: Continue reading

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Broad Coalition of Support for Mall Redevelopment

Broad Coalition of Community Organizations and Local Businesses Announce Support for Burlington Town Center Mall Project

Burlington, VT – Kelly Devine, Executive Director of the Burlington Business Association, along with representatives from various community organizations, non-profits, and local businesses, today announced support for the proposed redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center Mall. Today’s broad coalition of support shows the numerous benefits of mixed-use downtown infill redevelopment of these two central blocks, including the creation of at least 270 additional housing units at a range of income levels and the re-opening of St. Paul and Pine Streets, again enlivening our shared community space and reconnecting the Old North End with downtown Burlington.
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BBA Hosts Tree and Green belt Care Workshop

Learn About Tree and Green Belt Care!

As part of BBA’s Adopt Your Sidewalk campaign, we will be holding a workshop on April 27th from 8:30-9:30 am on how to care for and maintain trees and green belts in front of your downtown business. This workshop is free to attend, please RSVP here
We’ll be joined by Burlington’s City Arborist, Warren Spinner, who will coStreteTree_pineandFerguson-300x200ver the do’s and don’ts of tree and greenbelt maintenance, what services the city provides and ways you can help make Burlington beautiful!
 
Haven’t Adopted your Sidewalk yet? It’s easy and free to sign up today! The BBA is asking downtown merchants to adopt the strip of sidewalk in front of their business and commit to cleaning, maintaining and beautifying this small slice of Burlington. Join us!
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State of the BBA: Downtown Action Group

Mike Schirling gave a report on the activity of the Downtown Action Group at our State of the BBA event in March. This reported included updates on recent discussions and activities. The DAG meets monthly to discuss issues in the downtown core and how they impact businesses.

The group has identified troubling behavior on the street level as a major factor.  As a result the group has been proactive in initiating some responses including:

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