South Burlington ‘City Center’ concept takes shape
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The sprawling city of South Burlington has for decades planned around the concept of developing a city center where residents could meet and gather. After the recent completion of several major projects, that dream is closer to reality.
“Fundamentally, this is all about building community and it’s just so exciting to see it all coming together,” said 5 Paul Conner, South Burlington’s planning director.
This year city hall and the library moved into a brand new building on newly built Market Street, which officials hope will be the anchor of the downtown the city neve had.
“Communities that have strong downtowns, most of their revenues that keep all the services for their citizens going, comes from the land around these downtowns. So yes, I think downtowns will continue to be important going forward,” said Ilona Blanchard, South Burlington’s community development director.
Market Street is complete and lined with affordable housing, townhomes, and other new housing in the works. Next up, a road will connect from the Trader Joe’s and Healthy Living parking lot through to Market Street and eventually to Williston Road, which will have more than 100 units of housing and retail space.
“Big picture, what we are doing is sewing together the fabric to create a network of street and sidewalks and recreation paths and parkland that will become a true downtown,” Conner said.
South Burlington has the unusual advantage of having existing infrastructure that supports big and small businesses -- including existing hotels and more planned -- surrounded by empty land where they can create a true downtown.
Children’s librarian Kelly Kendall grew up in South Burlington and says their new library location is already paying dividends with a huge number of people signing up for library cards. She says it’s exciting to see it all coming together. “It’s is a destination point in addition to being walkable and having the community grow around us. It creates a center for South Burlington that I don’t think we’ve ever really had before,” she said.
Much of the new development has been made possible through TIF district funding in the city, meaning the city can borrow on future tax dollars. The Legislature also recently voted to extend the time citizens of South Burlington can vote on projects using this money.
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