Burlington YMCA to make way for new hotel

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The Burlington YMCA is making way for a modern hotel. It's a big change for the building that's been at the same downtown spot since 1933, and an organization that's over 150 years-old.

Rendering Credit: Smith Buckley Architects and Lincoln Brown

The YMCA has called the corner of South Union and College street home for almost 90 years. The building once boarded and housed local students and residents up to the early 90s. Now, the historic building is going back to it's roots.

Developer Scott Silver says the boutique-style Cambria Hotel
plans to keep the current facade of the Y, while tearing down the back of the building and going up six stories. The final plan calls for a rooftop bar and restaurant along with 77 underground parking spaces.

"The project has the downtown right here, so we think our location is unmatched," Silver said.

While affordable housing is at the top of many people's lists in Burlington, Silver says it wasn't financially viable at the Y property. "We acquired the contact for the property from a local developer. He spent about 18 months evaluating the site to do senior housing or multi-family housing. He couldn't make it work," he said.

"Hopefully people can understand -- no one's going to pay for a $3 million property for something that loses money," said Kyle Dodson, CEO of the Greater Burlington area YMCA. He says construction on their new location is halfway done. The YMCA plans to move up the block by early 2020. The purchase of their old building has funded the final steps of the new construction.

"It would have been wonderful if someone could have put together money and put a package together. That didn't come forward, that was not presented to us," Dodson said.

And the new hotel could have a bigger economic impact on the city. The YMCA is a nonprofit, while the hotel is expected to bring more than 40 jobs, in addition to tax revenue.

"We're going to generate very substantial tax revenue both through property taxes as well as food, beverage and sales tax," Silver said.

The hotel still needs to go through the permitting process but hopes to open in 2021.