BURLINGTON, Vt. – The City of Burlington has filed a lawsuit in Vermont Superior Court against the developer of the long-delayed CityPlace Burlington project.
Prior to the suit, the developer had informed city officials that it was attempting to terminate their agreement and relinquish its existing zoning permit.
According to Mayor Miro Weinberger, the development agreement doesn’t allow one party to terminate it once construction starts.
“The developer’s recent letters make explicitly clear that it is attempting to renege on its longstanding, binding commitments to the people of Burlington by arguing that it never started construction,” Mayor Weinberger said. “Anyone who has looked at the construction site in the last two years knows that’s absurd, and we’re not going to let them get away with it.”
City Council President Max Tracy was also critical of the developer’s claim that construction hasn’t started.
“I think that’s a complete joke, that’s just nonsense,” Tracy said. “I mean, there was demolition and I see demolition as part of that construction process, so to say that construction never began is a joke. We have a huge hole in the ground. It’s apparent to pretty much everyone that construction began and then stopped.”
Don Sinex, manager of BTV Mall Associates, recently took the project’s reins again after claiming a majority share from Brookfield Properties. Sinex had been in charge of the project prior to 2019, when several delays set its completion date back years.
In two letters to city officials, Sinex said he is willing to “negotiate a new agreement for the construction of a successful development at the project site.” The City made it clear in their Thursday press release, however, that while they remain open to mediation with the developer, the discussion “must be based on the existing development agreement.”
“The City has complied with all of its obligations under the Development Agreement,” said attorney Marc Heath of the firm Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC, who represents the City in this litigation along with a team of litigators at the firm. “BTC’s unilateral attempt to walk away from its contractual obligations to the City is meritless. We intend to compel BTC to comply with its contractual obligations; specifically to provide the public improvements as required in the Development Agreement.”