Millions of dollars spent, thousands of hours of planning and it's stalled at the final step. What will Champlain College do to move forward with its plans for a new residential hall?
The story of Champlain College and its, as of now, failed attempt at a new residential hall starts with the city.
“Burlington has a significant housing shortage,” explained David Provost, Senior VP of Finance & Admin. at Champlain College. “As our students graduate and want to stay here in Burlington and live here in Burlington and work, housing is not affordable or obtainable. So one way to correct that is for the institutions to take responsibility for housing their students."
So a few years ago, Champlain College, and Provost, committed to finding somewhere to put some beds.
The school bought a property at 194 St. Paul Street downtown. It's an old gentleman's club Champlain purchased for $1.4 million.
The College is still in the process of closing a deal with the City on the adjacent Brown's Court parking lot.
The combined properties could be the sight of a 6 story, over 100 unit residential hall, Eagle's Landing.
The plans made their way through every necessary channel, was endorsed by the Planning & Zoning Commission and just needed final approval by the City's Development Review Board last week.
“In this case, the DRB concluded that due to parking and mass and scale and that it did not meet the zoning requirements. So when you go through a process that takes so much time and so much money and you believe you have the support, to see it fail is disappointed. It's troubling. I believe the process needs to change,” said Provost,
The Review Board cites the project’s size as a reason for the vote..
If it had been approved, construction could have started next month.
“Our path forward right now is to appeal the decision and to take it to the Environmental Court. The problem is, the Environmental Court for the state of Vermont is backed up and that could delay the project 18-36 months,” explained Provost.
Instead, he's hoping to make a deal between the College, the City and the Development Review Board that would satisfy all parties and get moving on the project.
The school could also start over with a whole new plan.