City Council Selects Bid from Schurz

After deliberations that lasted into the early morning hours Tuesday, the City Council selected a newly created bid from Schurz Communications/ ZRF as their preferred choice for Burlington Telecom.

Schurz’s bid included elements of the previously eliminated Schurz bid while also incorporating parts of the ZRF partnership. The new bid is a cash offer for $30.8M with an as yet undetermined City equity stake.

The meeting, which began at 5:30pm and did not adjourn until 1:45am, initially featured bids from Keep BT Local, Ting/Tucows and a joint bid from ZRF/Schurz Communications. After public hearing and a recess, it was announced that ZRF and Schurz would change their bid to make Schurz the primary bidder with a minority interest for ZRF.

In the second round of voting, the ZRF/Schurz bid garnered 8 votes, KBTL 2, with Councilors Deane and Shannon abstaining.

ZRF/Schurz’s final LOI, which will include the full details of the bid is expected to be unveiled some time on Tuesday. The Mayor’s office will now work out the details of the bid before signing any agreement.

Based in Indiana, Schurz Communications has over 100 years of experience as a company in charge of newspapers, TV stations, as well as cable and fiber providers. The BBA will continue to keep our members informed about the sale of Burlington Telecom and its potential impacts on Burlington’s economic vitality.

Downtown Holiday Lights Expand to Center St. and Bank St.

Burlington, VT – The Burlington Business Association (BBA) is excited to announce an expansion of the downtown holiday lighting project, which had a successful first year in 2016. In its first year, lights were installed on street lamps that line College Street, from South Winooski to St. Paul Street. 2017 will see the addition of lights on Center Street and the section of Bank Street between South Winooski and Church Street on the South side of the street. The white holiday lights will be installed by the Burlington Electric Department, who helped to facilitate the initiative. Installation is due to begin the week of November 19th.

This project was made possible by generous donations from Northfield Savings Bank, Burton and Burlington Telecom Business Services. Each of these companies came on board with enthusiastic support when the project was proposed in 2016 and again to help grow the scope for 2017.

The idea to add holiday lights to the side streets came from the BBA’s Downtown Action Group committee, whose members proposed it as a way to extend the festive feeling of Church Street along Burlington’s side streets. A grass roots effort was quickly underway, championed by Kara Alnasrawi, DAG Committee Chair and owner of Liebling women’s boutique on College street.

Winter lights create a warm, welcoming environment on the street to coincide with the festive winter season, provide additional safety through well lit streets, and are an effective way to help drive holiday traffic to side street businesses and further extend the holiday vibrancy through the downtown. Since the pilot project was installed in 2016, the holiday lighting project has garnered interest from other side street businesses, and the BBA will aim to work with businesses throughout the downtown to expand the scope of the lighting to include additional street lamps for upcoming holiday seasons.

Thanks to our sponsors for supporting this project!


BBA Preps for Small Business Saturday

The BBA is working again this year with local retailers to spread the word about Small Business Saturday, which will take place on Nov. 25.

BBA Members are invited to stop by our office and pick up some Small Business Saturday “Swag”, including tote bags, welcome mats, posters, balloons and more! Decorate your store and spread the word to shop small this Holiday season.

The BBA office is open M-F, 9-5. BBA Members are encouraged to stop by and pick up a kit!

Holiday Parking Promotion Continues through Saturday


All this week, downtown visitors can get $3 parking meters by using the “Parkmobile” app and promo code ‘BTV’.

Visit your app store or to download the “Parkmobile” app. If you don’t have a smartphone, simply call (877) 727-5010 to register for an account and call the same number anytime to initiate a parking session. Once your account is setup, follow the steps below to get your $3 off!

  1. Look for the Parkmobile sign or sticker.
  2. Once registered, use the Parkmobile app to enter in the zone number listed on the sign and enter in the promotional code to start a parking session.
  3. That’s it! And just to make life easier, you can opt-in to receive a notification 15 minutes before your parking session is set to expire and add more time if you need it.

Download and print the Parking Promo Flyer to help spread the word to your customers! This promotion is for all on-street meters in Burlington, each code is good for a single-use on any of the Saturdays listed above. Don’t forget that there are over 300 “smart meters” located in the downtown core. These smart meters have no time limit, pay for as much time as you need! Credit cards, coins and Parkmobile are accepted. Use Park Burlington’s interactive parking map to explore all on-street and off-street parking options in Burlington.

This promotion is the result of a partnership between Burlington DPW, the Church Street Marketplace and the Burlington Business Association

City Council Deadlocked on BT Sale


Although a final resolution has not yet been reached on the Burlington Telecom sale, a new approach is being explored by council in partnership with the two finalist bidders, Ting and Keep BT Local.

After two 6-6 votes late last night at City Council, a resolution was passed to explore the possibility of a joint venture between Ting and KBTL. The two sides will hold discussions over the next week and present to council on next Monday(11/13). Representatives of Ting and KBTL were unclear on what an end result of the discussion would look like, but were open to meeting to figure out a way forward.

VIDEO: November 6th City Council Meeting

Without some kind of compromise between the two separate bids, the Council will reopen the bidding process to previous bidders, including Schurz Communications and ZRF Partners. If that is the case the Council will vote again to select from the four bidders at their November 20th meeting.

The City must select a buy by January to maximize its proceeds on the sale.

Last night’s meeting was the conclusion of the Council’s October 30th meeting, which was adjourned to give Councilors more time to study the proposals and meet with community members. Councilors Richard Deane, Adam Roof, Joan Shannon, Chip Mason, Kurt Wright and Karen Paul supported the bid from Ting. On the other side were Councilors, Max Tracy, Sara Moore, Ali Dieng, Dave Hartnett, Sharon Bushor and Council President Jane Knodell.

The BBA has been tracking this process from the beginning. Last week we released our own policy statement, outlining our support for the bid from Ting/Tucows. We will track the process of the discussions around the possible joint venture between Ting and KBTL, and evaluate information as it is made public.

BBA to Honor John Killacky at Annual Winter Social Event

This year’s BBA Winter Social will celebrate John Killacky, Executive Director of the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, who announced in September that he would be stepping down from his position. The BBA is excited to honor John’s contributions to the Arts & Culture of Burlington.

Under John’s leadership, the Flynn has grown to a $7.7 million operating budget, while maintaining a commitment to presenting exceptional artistic, educational and community engagement programs. Join us to celebrate John’s success and wish him well in his future endeavors.

The BBA Winter Social will take place on Nov. 30th, 5-7:30 pm at the Flynn.
Register Here

Burlington City Place Receives Final Approval

The final development agreement for Burlington City Place (formerly Burlington Town Center) was approved by the City Council last Monday night. Demolition will begin on the Cherry Street garage (slated to begin Dec. 6th.) signaling the beginning of this transformative project for our downtown. 

The agreement, which includes an encumbrance plan to minimize construction disturbances, is the final approval needed for construction to begin.

Early on, our organization identified the redevelopment of the mall as having significant potential benefits to the future of downtown Burlington. Revitalizing this large site in the heart of our community with retail, offices and housing fits with our goal of ensuring the economic vitality of Burlington through dense downtown development. The BBA will continue to support projects that add to the vibrancy of our community.

The project is set to add 272 units of housing and hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail and office space to downtown Burlington.

As this project moves to the construction phase, we will work with the City and developer, to provide timely information on construction schedules and street closures. Follow our website, Facebook and Twitter for more information.

BBA’s Executive Director to Participate in Panel at Development Conference

The BBA’s Executive Director, Kelly Devine will join Peter Straube of Champlain College and Fran Stoddard, an independent communications consultant for a session during the White & Burke Development Conference on November 14th.

US v. THEM: Building Bridges to Yes (Limit 45)

Kelly Devine, Burlington Business Association

Peter Straube, Champlain College

Fran Stoddard, Communications Consultant

Getting projects done involves a lot of conversation, especially here in Vermont where we place high value on public involvement. Many times the public process of getting a project approved can feel like an “US v. THEM” situation. You may often experience difficult conversations. You may be directly confronted or harassed. Building on the conversation and best practices explored at the BBA Winter Summit of January 2017, we will take you through a series of exercises to get you thinking about new ways to “Build Bridges to Yes.” We will offer new communication strategies to use when the conversation gets tough and the environment becomes hostile. And we let you try them out. In this interactive session, we will get you thinking about how to shift the dynamic from a confrontation to a productive conversation that helps get your project to “YES.”

For more information and registration, visit

Mayor Urges Council to Advance Viable BT Bids

Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Weinberger announced his support for the City Council to advance BT ownership bids from Schurz Communications and Ting/Tucows. He also expressed concerns about the bid by Keep BT Local (KBTL), including the “near certainty” of a legal challenge by Citi Bank should KBTL be chosen.

In a statement that echoed the opinion of the Burlington Telecom Advisory Board, the mayor expressed his belief that the Shurz and Ting bids satisfied the City’s sale criteria by providing significant benefit to both taxpayers and BT subscribers. While feeling positive about the options before the council, the Mayor made clear, the serious consequences that face the city if the KBTL bid were selected.

“KBTL’s focus on local issues throughout this process has helped shape the City’s goals and will positively impact BT’s future no matter which bid the City selects. Regrettably, however, the KBTL offer is simply not a viable option for the City to pursue. Selecting it would result in legal action and substantial taxpayer financial exposure, threaten to undo years of BT progress and put Burlington Telecom’s future on very uncertain footing” said the Mayor in a statement.

Mayor Weinberger went on to point out that the bids by Schurz and Ting would prevent a future broadband monopoly, while securing a significant investment in Burlington.

The bids by Schurz and Ting both come in the form of cash offers, worth $30 million and 27.5 million respectively. KBTL’s bid is worth $12 million for an 85% stake in the company. $10 million of that bid comes in the form of a loan from Maine Fiber Company.

The City Council will narrow the three bids down to two at the October 16th Meeting. All three bids as well as other supporting documents can be viewed on Burlington Telecoms website.


Burlington City Place Construction Update

On Thursday, September 7th, CEDO and construction consultant PC Construction gathered with area businesses to discuss disruptions related to Burlington City Place (formerly Burlington Town Center) Construction. The meeting, which included a Q and A section, updated area businesses with information about vehicle routes, parking changes and construction hours.

Stage one of construction which will begin with the demolition of the Cherry Street parking garage is set to last for 12 month, with two subsequent stages lasting another 20 months.

An important focus of the meeting was communicating that despite the construction downtown Burington is still open for business. Businesses should communicate that streets are open, that parking is available and that visitors to the downtown will not be impacted by the construction site.

Parking for both downtown workers and visitors was also a major point of discusssion. The City and development team are encouraging people to check with Park Burlington on parking options, including city garages and leased parking opportunities.

For more a more detailed rundown on the September 7th meeeting check out the meeting notes and presentation. Also if you questions or concerns contact either Noelle MacKay, Director of the Community & Economic Development Office, at [email protected] or 802-865-7174, or Ian Jakus, Projects & Policy Specialist at CEDO, at [email protected] or 802-865-7532.