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Burlington files lawsuit against CityPlace developers

Published: Sep. 10, 2020 at 11:59 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2020 at 7:02 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The city of Burlington Thursday filed a lawsuit against the developers of CityPlace, the stalled $200 million project in the heart of downtown.

The lawsuit against BTC Mall Associates alleges they broke their contract with the city to build the project. Officials say the legal action comes after developer Don Sinex informed the city last week he was attempting to terminate the 2017 development agreement with the city.

The city is asking the court to force the developers to finish the public improvements it promised to make when the agreement was signed in 2017. That includes reconnecting St. Paul and Pine Streets and other work across the six blocks surrounding the property.

Mayor Miro Weinberger says the city has given the developers enough time to act -- now two years since any construction at the pit -- and he says although it’s not the city’s first choice, a lawsuit is the only way forward to force the work to get done.

“We’ve given the developer every opportunity to move this project forward, but they have not done so. We are now taking steps to protect the city’s interest and to create a structured manner to compel action,” Weinberger said. “The developer’s recent letters make explicitly clear that it is attempting to renege on its longstanding, binding commitments to the people of Burlington by arguing that it never started construction. Anyone who has looked at the construction site in the last two years knows that’s absurd, and we’re not going to let them get away with it.”

Don Sinex, who earlier this summer took back control of the property from BTC, did not respond to requests for comment. It was just a few weeks ago that he announced he was teaming with local contractors on the project and that a new development plan would be submitted by this month.

The long-delayed project has left an empty pit in the heart of Burlington where the 10-story project consisting of housing, a hotel, and mixed office and retail space, was supposed to go.

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