New proposal to develop downtown South Burlington - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

New proposal to develop downtown South Burlington

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A new push for the downtown development of South Burlington could mean the closing of an elementary school.

The city of South Burlington has been making strides towards developing a City Center with the recent addition of Trader Joe's and the current construction of Pier One Imports and a new development proposal would expand construction even further. But it could come at a price.

It's a plan that's been decades in the making-- a downtown center for the city of South Burlington

"We're very excited about it. This is a $100 million dollar investment in City Center. The community has wanted this property to be developed downtown for 30 years or more," said Kevin Dorn, the South Burlington city manager.

The city says a plan presented by developer Gene Beaudoin may finally be the push to get the ball rolling.

The proposed plan calls for two phases of development. Phase One would create City Center Commons, which includes a collection of national retail anchor stores. Phase Two includes additional street shops and a potential brand new city library.

"The retail component, with the smaller retail component, a couple hundred units of housing, and the prospect that we will have a new community library will drive other developers into that area and complete that vision that we've had for our downtown," said Dorn.

But one of the biggest challenges to the downtown development has been the centrally located school, but that's a problem that might soon have a solution. Part of developer Gene Beaudoin's proposal calls for him to buy the Rick Marcotte Central School for $7 million. That would free up the lot to build the City Center.

But South Burlington Schools Superintendent David Young says Monday night was the first he heard of that plan. And there is still a long way to go before any decisions are made.

"There's no actions being taken, this is a receipt of a proposal, we have a lot to do to understand what this means," said Young.

The school has 400 students and the city would need to find a place for them. It's something that could cost more than the $7 million offer.

But for some who live, work or play in South Burlington, change could be a good thing.

"I think it's overdue for a little expansion, I think it needs to be developed, as long as it's tasteful and the people are behind it and they really know exactly how it's going to be and how it's going to be produced and what the final product will be. I think it will be really good for South Burlington and Burlington," said Dana Wanapaskana, a Trader Joe's shopper.

Both the city and school board say they will be working together to decide the best course of action for the community and the next steps include ways to engage the public in the decision. But anything final is still very far in the future.

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