Another delay in Burlington's big mall redevelopment project

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) We have new details on the future of Burlington's $230 million mall redevelopment project. Demolition is complete and now construction will soon begin on CityPlace.

CityPlace will feature apartments, office space, and plenty of retailers. But WCAX News has learned those retailers are going to have to wait months longer than planned to set up shop.

"For now, transitioning from demo into excavation for the new foundation," developer Don Sinex said.

Sinex says crews removed and mostly recycled more than 100 million pounds of debris from this space, all in preparation to start construction.

Sarah Little, who lives across the street from the space, says the work has been noisy but she believes it will all be worth it.

"Hopefully some new clothing stores, something that everybody could enjoy," Little said.

Retailers at CityPlace were originally supposed to open next fall, but Sinex says that's been pushed back to the fall of 2020 after asbestos and lawsuits caused delays.

"Now that we're at where we're at, it will pick up the pace and we'll make up some of the time," Sinex said.

Work will continue even when the snow starts to fall. Sinex says 290 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments should open in early 2021, with the whole project completed later that year.

"It's all the things we love about a downtown: live, work and play," said Mark Bouchett, who owns Homeport on Church Street.

Bouchett is excited about the possibility of locally owned stores included at City Place.

"We live here and we give damn," Bouchett said. "We care about our neighborhood. We care about our marketplace. And I'm hoping it's that type of businesses that goes in there."

That wasn't always in the cards. We heard Walmart was being considered for the former Macy's building.

"We even explored things with Walmart, thinking that they were one of the few bricks-and-mortar retailers that continues to do reasonably well," Sinex said.

He says the retail giant expressed interest early, but they've decided not to pursue a Burlington location and are instead focusing on their online presence.

"Most likely a redesign and reuse of that site will include either partial or full demolition of that site," Sinex said.

Something well received by Bouchett.

"You know, I'm not a huge fan of Walmart," he said.

Many people WCAX News spoke with also were not big fans of putting a Walmart in Burlington.

Sinex hopes to have a plan to start the permitting process for demolishing the current building by the end of the year.

And Sinex says they should soon be ready to start announcing what businesses will go into CityPlace. He says they're in discussion with many different shops and are close to finishing some key leases.

"Within a few months I think we'll be able to announce we're almost fully leased on the retail," Sinex said. "And, of course, we have our lease with the University of Vermont Medical Center for administrative offices, which takes about half of our office space. So, we're content with where we are and we keep moving forward."