Delayed hotel projects sprouting across Vermont

Updated: May. 27, 2021 at 5:33 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Construction has picked back up on hotel projects put on hold during the pandemic, but not all of them around the state.

“It’s very busy, it’s extremely busy -- way busier than you can imagine,” said Richard Bushey, a contractor putting together the walls for a future hotel in Williston. Work only started a month ago as the hospitality industry waited out the pandemic.

“We understand that project as being back on track now,” said Matt Boulanger, Williston’s director of planning and zoning. With travel and tourism on hold for many, hotel projects were put on the back burner. “The question came up right away -- what’s going to move forward, what’s going to go on pause, and what might not happen at all,” Boulanger said.

Along with Williston, there are at least seven other hotels in the planning stages or set to start construction soon in this post-pandemic surge. They include hotels in Winooski, Essex Junction, Randolph, and two each in Burlington and South Burlington

“A lot of these construction projects in the hospitality sector are really just revving their engines and getting ready to go again,” said Amy Spear with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. Some of the plans did not make it through the pandemic, including a plan for a Hampton Inn in Montpelier that fell through after protracted legal wrangling. “There are always a lot of unknowns when you’re emerging from economically uncertain times. We will see what unfolds as reopening continues.”

Spear says even with the economic uncertainty, there is excitement as new opportunities emerge around the state. But she says regulatory, labor, and material problems can easily upend projects. “Much like other industries, the hospitality industry -- supply chain -- is seeing a similar impact,” she said.

Back at the Williston work site, Bushey knows he has a busy season ahead. “Seems like there are fewer people working in the field and there is way more demand than we have seen in years,” he said

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