We know it as “The Pit.” The big hole in Downtown Burlington. But developers of the CityPlace project are determined to change that narrative.  

And while they’re making significant progress, some Burlingtonians are concerned about construction plans that could disrupt the project. This time, the problem is parking.

Developers plan to build a 422-space garage right in the center of the project, but Burlington attorney John Franco says that is not enough.

Franco says a 2017 agreement with the developer ensures more parking spaces are added than what was lost when the project first began.

“The project involved tearing down the old, 567-space garage, which was on Cherry Street,” he said. “Now that public parking was the loss of one-fifth of the parking in the downtown of Burlington, and we contended that that loss of parking had to be mitigated,” said Franco.

Now, Franco is threating to appeal the permit that was approved by the Development Review Board last week.

Development partner Dave Farrington said he is “a little troubled” by the potential appeal. “This is a new project, standalone project. It’s meeting all the rules. “The city doesn’t have any problems with it.”

Mary O’Neil, Burlington’s Principal City Planner says under a new ordinance, there are no longer minimum parking requirements.

“Per the Comprehensive Development Ordinance as amended, the parking requirement is 0,” she said. “The Settlement Agreement between John Franco and clients and Devonwood Investors LLC in July 2017 included a provision to provide 200 automobile parking spaces subsurface within the building.”

She says the Development Review Board acknowledged that agreement in its recent decision. As a result, there will be 422 parking spaces on-site and more than 200 in the lowest parking level.

While the initial project will be downsized from 14 to 10 stories, eliminating unnecessary office space, Franco says the parking structure still won’t support the reductions.  

“The 60 percent cutting in parking and 20 percent reduction in other elements is way out of whack and we got to bring those two things more into balance,” said Franco.  

Farrington says Franco’s threat to appeal the permit comes as developers completed seven month’s worth of work.  

“And to let one guy and his friends mess this all up for the 45,000 people in Burlington who probably won’t get to see this built is troubling,” said Farrington.