Burlington’ Mayor Miro Weinberger called it one of the most significant votes about the future of downtown Burlington.
Tuesday night, Burlington City Council unanimously approved a settlement agreement that would allow developers to move forward with the long-stalled CityPlace Project.
Despite repeated delays, agreement breaches, and legal action, the Burlington City Council celebrated a small victory regarding what has long been called “The Pit.”
“This is an opportunity to restore a couple of streets and really restore a vibrant downtown neighborhood for the first time in 60 years,” said Mayor Weinberger.
Weinberger says the Council essentially voted to guarantee construction, activity and progress for the coming years.
“Instead of this sort of suburban shopping mall, what’s going to replace it is this mixed-used neighborhood,” said Weinberger.
The settlement agreement will give land back to the city, ensure that St. Paul and Pine Street are reconnected, and repay lost property taxes. Weinberger adds, the agreement also works to protect taxpayers and secures more benefits for construction workers.
“People should not think that as a result of this their taxes have been impacted in any way,” said Weinberger.
CityPlace property owner Don Sinex and — for the first time — local development partners will lead the construction effort.
“We’re excited and can’t wait to get going here,” said Dave Farrington, President and Owner of Farrington Construction Company.
He and two other developers will lead the Burlington CityPlace Development Team.
“I think it’s a great project for the city,” said Al Senecal, Owner of Omega Electrical Construction Company.
“We won’t let you down. I think it’s going to be a great project for the city, and we’re all looking forward to be being a part of it,” said Scott Ireland, Owner and President of S.D. Ireland Concrete Construction.
Starting next week, developers can seek construction permits. And on March 3, they’ll present a project plan to the development review board. Once approved, construction can begin.
“It takes a long journey to find our way home, and what we’ve got in front of us is local development partners, for the first time, who are committed to our economy in the same way – that all of us are – local high paying jobs, local housing, and a renewed downtown,” said City Councilor Karen Paul.
Though supportive of the agreement, many City Councilors were, at first, reluctant. However, Mayor Weinberger says it would have only caused further delays, if the agreement was not approved. Now, the city of Burlington can move the project along and help resolve a historic mistake.
“Burlingtonians can be assured that we are going to achieve that vision that people said they wanted. We are going to get those streets back. We are going to get the neighborhood back,” said Weinberger.