Developers push to boost Chittenden County housing market

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 4:24 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - With the vacancy rate in Chittenden County at just .4%, there isn’t nearly enough housing for all the people who want to live in the area. But a number of construction projects are in the works to ease the crunch.

“This is my town, this is where I grew up, this is where I want to live and work, and so this is where I’m building housing,” said developer Eric Farrell, who is building nearly 1,000 units as part of the Cambrian Rise project just north of downtown. “I don’t think I could build fast enough to catch up to demand.”

Construction is ongoing at Cambrian Rise, with 450 units completed and another 500 to go. As per city policy, 25% of those are going to be listed as affordable. Farrell says the housing crisis cannot be solved without continuing to build. “Nothing works better than just build more units -- it has a ripple effect. People sometimes complain that new housing is expensive. Well, yes, it is expensive, but when people move into new housing they move out of older housing and that is the ripple effect. So, every time you build a unit, it helps,” he said.

In downtown Burlington, Doug Nedde of Nedde Real Estate is getting close to completing 49 units called The Nest on Pine Street. Just last year, 49 units were completed next door, with around 20% of them listed as affordable, including two designated for formerly homeless people.

Nedde says before they even advertised the coming apartments, they had a waitlist of 200 people. “We need people living in downtown for downtown to be vibrant and healthy. And the more people living downtown, the better Burlington will be for businesses, for restaurants. And hopefully, it will help with some of the problems we are having,” he said.

Another major downtown project, CityPlace, may also be finally moving forward this fall, adding an estimated 430 housing units.

Some of these projects were spurred by policy changes, like lifting the city’s minimum parking requirement. Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger has also proposed a 10-point housing plan that includes changes in zoning regulations to clear the way for units in the South End and UVM’s Trinity campus. He says he is committed to doubling housing production in the next five years to around 1,250 units.

“We have these broad policy changes that should make it possible to build thousands of additional homes in Burlington and in the years to come. A year in, we’ve made a lot of progress and have some tangible evidence of that. We also have a lot of work to do still,” Weinberger said.

The city is also addressing the homeless population. In November, people are expected to start moving into the city’s new low-barrier pods shelters in the Old North End. Officials hope to provide temporary housing for up to 35 people to help give them a start at a more stable life.

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