Burlington Town Center developer fires back after latest legal challenge

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Burlington Town Center developer fires back after latest legal challenge

Tue, 04/18/2017 - 11:47am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Don Sinex, managing member of Devonwood Investors LLC and BTC Mall Associates LLC, the owner and developer of the Burlington Town Center, issued the following statement regarding the zoning permit appeal filed by a group of opponents attempting to block redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center: The opponents have filed various challenges along the way and have focused their appeals on the 14-story height of some of the new complex as out-of-scale to the rest of Burlington. The project recently received private financing and has been approved by local zoning officials and by voters in March. This new appeal has gone to the Vermont Superior Court Environmental Division.

“We'll review their zoning permit appeal, defend the project, and expect to prevail," Sinex said. "The project fully complies with the City's zoning. We have support from a broad group of residents and organizations, and have received approval at every step of this lengthy process – at the City Council, Planning Commission, Design Advisory Board, Conservation Board, and Development Review Board. We have attended dozens of public meeting seeking input and improving the project along the way. In November, the public strongly affirmed the zoning and the Tax Increment Financing for streets, sidewalks and other public improvements, and in March none of the Council candidates who ran on a platform against this project won.”

“This project is desperately needed in Burlington. It will create hundreds of good paying jobs in our downtown and substantial housing. Burlington needs and deserves a more vibrant core downtown and that’s what this project is about.”

Don Sinex, right, with Mayor Weinberger April 2016. Vermont Business Magazine photo. Top: artist rendering.

“It is so disappointing that the unyielding opposition of a few residents – who have spread misinformation about the project and who have a history of opposing other projects in town – now threatens to deny not only their fellow residents but also the broader region all the benefits of this development. The opponents may claim they just want a ‘better’ project; but we’ve spent three years getting to this point. Rather than engaging constructively to work with us on the project, they have opposed it at every opportunity and interfered with our ability to proceed.”

“We’ve hired dozens of local engineers, contractors, architects, artisans, and other professionals. We’ve entered into a lease with the City’s largest employer, the UVM Medical Center, which needs space for its workers and does not have other downtown options. We’ve spent resources drafting architect and engineering plans to seek the permit that has been granted, and have moved on to construction and engineering work to enable us to start the project this summer. Many stores in the old mall have not renewed leases, in anticipation of the construction that has now been approved. We’ve selected an equity partner and are finishing the construction loan. We are ready to go. But after more than three years, we now face great uncertainty and delay from this appeal brought by a handful of opponents. Make no mistake – a drawn out appeal will mean no project, just a dying mall and rusting parking garage in the middle of this great city.”

“Let’s focus instead on what this project can bring to this community: with this transformative redevelopment, we will eliminate the out-of-date suburban mall now weighing down the middle of this beautiful downtown. We will replace it with new housing, new streets, new jobs, increased revenue, and greater opportunity, bringing new life to the heart of the downtown.”

“The revitalized Burlington Town Center will be an extremely important driver of economic growth, jobs, and tax revenue for the city and region. It is heartening to have support from a broad, multi-partisan group of residents, community leaders, nonprofit institutions, and businesses. We will vigorously defend the project from this unfortunate appeal, while continuing to focus on progress that will benefit everyone who lives, works, and spends their time in Burlington.”

The plan for redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center includes the creation of:

  • 272 new apartments in the heart of the downtown, with 20% permanently inclusionary

  • New office space and revitalized retail

  • Two new public streets, eliminating dead ends cutting the downtown in half

  • New services, such as an early childhood education center and community space

  • State-of-the-art stormwater handling

  • LEED Gold environmentally-responsible construction

  • Renewable energy and energy efficiency measures, including serving as a lead partner in

    Burlington’s District Energy initiative

  • Hundreds of jobs during construction and after completion, along with increased

    revenue for city merchants, more tax revenue, and follow-on economic development 

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Source: Sinex. 4.17.2017