CityPlace settlement calls for reconnecting Pine and Saint Paul Streets
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The city of Burlington has reached a settlement with the developers of CityPlace to reconnect two public streets through the project site. But two-and-a-half years after the multi-million project stalled because of financing problems, there’s still no word on when construction will begin in the empty pit in the heart of downtown.
“This settlement creates additional security to ensure that the new streets will be built at no cost to taxpayers regardless -- this is a key point -- regardless of the progress on the development,” said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger Friday.
Security guaranteed by an out of court settlement that says if BTC Mall Associates fail to start the CityPlace project within the next two years or fall behind, construction of the streets reconnecting Pine and Saint Paul Streets will be on the developers’ dime. If the developers do start the project, they’ll still build the streets but the city will pay the price using tax increment funding as originally planned. “No matter what happens now with the project that the developer is pursuing, the city will get our streets,” Weinberger said.
Community leaders say completion of CityPlace, which will include more than 400 housing units and retail space, is in everybody’s best interest. “We need it, we need it now. We need it to give hope to our downtown businesses and their employees who’ve been hit so hard by this pandemic. This project will help propel Burlington towards recovery,” said Kelly Devine with the Burlington Business Association.
Once the project moves forward, the developers must repay $150,000 a year in lost property taxes that will be funneled directly into the city’s tax increment financing district.
A new team of local developers took over the project last year and include Don Sinnex of Devonwood Investors, Dave Farrington of Farrington Construction, Al Senecal of Omega Electric, and Scott Ireland of S.D. Ireland. They have vowed to move forward with the project, but have yet to line up financing.
When asked how they can assure residents that CityPlace will go forward, city officials say collaboration plays an important role in accountability. “The inclusion of the local partners -- Dave, Al, and Scott -- is key. They’re here, they’re down the street, they live among us with their families, their businesses, their deep and well-earned and deserved reputations for getting the job done,” said City Councilor Karen Paul, D-Ward 6.
Despite their confidence, the city has little leverage in the public-private partnership.
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