Burlington looks for changes on Cherry Street - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Burlington looks for changes on Cherry Street

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Church Street in Burlington is a bustling place, but turn the corner onto Cherry Street and it's a different story.

"Cherry Street is a poster child for everything wrong in street design," said Peter Owens of the Community and Economic Development Office.

Owens says the traffic and lack of trees are just part of the problem on this corridor linking Church Street and the waterfront.

"There's nothing to look at, engage you, broken concrete, blank walls, the list goes on and on," Owens said.

Because of the lack of foot traffic on Cherry Street, the Burlington Town Center Mall doesn't even have window displays.

Burlington officials are launching an initiative to overhaul the waterfront, including Cherry Street. It's called the Public Investment Action Plan. Over the next two years the city will identify and implement some improvements aimed at making the area more pedestrian and retail friendly.

"This is not pie in the sky dreaming, we have real money to make real change hopefully within the next two years," Owens said.

Owens says the changes will most likely cost $1 million-$4 million.

Cherry Street is the same length as Church Street, yet people don't want to walk down it even with Lake Champlain within eyesight. Owens says part of the reason is there's no easy way to get from Battery Park to the waterfront. The city is looking at linking the two, possibility with a covered escalator.

"Church Street is a wonderful amenity, but we have to grow that success to connect to Cherry Street and the waterfront," Owens said.

As far as the mall goes, it's for sale and the city hopes new ownership takes advantage of its storefront space on Cherry Street and possibly builds up-- adding several stories of condos.

The city is accepting any ideas from individuals or businesses until April 5th. Funding for the changes will come through tax-increment financing or a TIF district.

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