Burlington considers 2 new proposals for Memorial Auditorium

Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 5:37 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The city of Burlington is investing $1 million to stabilize Memorial Auditorium which has been closed since 2016. It comes as officials continue their years-long efforts to find partners to redevelop the building.

Memorial Auditorium has been sitting empty for the last six years and now Burlington officials are looking to fill the space with something that serves the community. The Community and Economic Development Office is considering two different projects that they hope could be completed between 24 and 36 months.

“One is for an art’s use, sort of interactive and immersive art experience in the building. The other one is to renovate the building into housing units,” said the city’s Samantha Dunn.

Both proposals are estimated to cost more than $36 million each. Hawthorne Development Corporation out of Illinois is looking to fill the building with 40 apartments. Babaroosa, an Essex arts organization, is also looking at the interactive art component. The organization’s Teresa and Robert Davis say that while the Queen City is in need of housing, they say the art experience would bring a new element to the city. “Both from the technology side and the accessibility side,” Robert said.

“The equality and diversity side as well. We wanted to reach out to Vermonters and make this something that is very inclusive for our community,” added Teresa.

CEDO, along with an ad hoc committee and students, will evaluate the proposals Thursday night for the first time. Dunn says the plan that gets picked will enter a long-term lease and is responsible for coming up with the money for renovations. “The next steps will be actually sitting down at the table. These are just proposals that are on paper,” she said. “Probably entering into a pre-development agreement of what kinds of milestones and legal agreements need to be established.”

There was a third proposal submitted by the Burlington-based music nonprofit Big Heavy World, but it was tossed out after it did not fit the requirements.

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