Burlington residents, businesses supportive of CityPlace changes

Published: Oct. 29, 2019 at 5:54 PM EDT
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CityPlace developers Monday night announced plans to scale back their major project in the heart of downtown Burlington, including reducing the height of the complex from 14-stories down to 10. Our Erin Brown went downtown to find out what people think of the new plan.

Burlington residents we spoke with say thhey approve of the revised plan to scale back the design for CityPlace.

"The downsizing to bring the shopping center more in conformity of the character of the Burlington community is a positive step in the right direction," said Ben Luna, a local resident.

Many who live and work in the Queen City say they were never too excited about a structure towering over the rest of downtown. "It would've been really a sore thumb sticking up in the middle of the town," said Dennis O'Neill.

Others say they don't see much of a difference between 14 and 10 stories, but they're hoping the project will get done quicker now that it's smaller. They're also looking forward to the job prospects to come out of it.

"Big stores and then a lot of little stores. I think it'd be good for the community to be able to open new businesses. A lot of people have opportunities to do that," said Ryan Mazur.

Business owners like Bill Leckerling say it's about time something gets built. He says having a giant pit in the middle of downtown isn't ideal for Burlington's success. "Makes everything else feel like it's not thriving. Between that and City Hall Park has really displaced everybody and the normal flow of traffic and walking around. It just has a different feel to it," he said.

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger says he is also on board. He's hopeful the project will still deliver on its promise to create housing and jobs.

"I think what they laid out last night meets all the goals I've had for the project from the beginning. It has hundreds of additional new homes. It preserves ground floor retail. It gets back these streets that were lost decades ago. It would create downtown jobs," he said.

The new design will add a hotel with 175 rooms. It still has retail and living space like the original concept. Developers say modifying construction techniques will help lower the cost.

The developers say they are making room for more parking in downtown. The mayor requested they move back some of the fencing that blocks off the CityPlace construction area. Eventually, that will free up parking spots and sidewalks along Bank and Cherry Streets.