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Burlington CityPlace partners buy out Sinex

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 1:54 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Another twist Friday in the long-delayed effort to get the CityPlace project built in downtown Burlington -- a group of local partners announced they have bought out principal developer Don Sinex.

The minority partners, including Dave Farrington, Al Senecal, and Scott Ireland, in a statement on Friday, said the buyout will enable them to gain “full ownership and control” and allow them to expedite construction on “the pit” in the heart of downtown. They say Community Bank has assisted with initial financing but gave no timeline of when construction could begin.

The multi-million project was first announced nearly a decade ago and has already been through several re-designs and development partner changes. Obtaining financing has been a big hurdle and it is unclear how removing Sinex from the deal changes that. The new owners did not respond to our request for an interview.

Their announcement said the project will consist of 427 residential units and they’ve agreed to make 80 of those units affordable housing. There is also a 422 car parking garage open to the public, and around 40,000 square feet of retail shops and restaurants.

Mayor Miro Weinberger says the city continues to support the project, making sure TIF financing is in place to pay for the public infrastructure. However, he says the financial liability lies with the developers, not taxpayers.

“It’s a big step forward for this long effort to try to bring hundreds of homes, jobs, mixed-use neighborhood to the downtown, really add to the city’s tax base. Obviously, something we’ve been working on for a long time. There have been setbacks to it and we are not over the final hurdle yet, but this is big,” the mayor said.

After clearing other lawsuits, one is left outstanding. It involves a dispute over parking at the site. John Franco, a lawyer who has tried to block the project, says the two parties have come to a tentative agreement.

“The nature of the project was changing, Champlain Housing {Trust} was being brought in to do the affordable housing part -- which was significant -- and there was just no political constituency for our parking demands, that became very clear we needed to move on from that,” Franco said.

He said that while Sinex’s decision to bow out didn’t hurt the negotiations, it was more the affordable housing component and other changes that made it more palatable.

Sinex still is involved in phase two of the project involving the redevelopment of the closed mall and former L.L. Bean building. He told WCAX that from his perspective, phase one is in good hands and will be started soon. He also is planning phase two on an accelerated basis.

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