Signs along Church Street promise redevelopment is “Coming Soon,” which might be the case after Monday’s ruling.
A Vermont Environmental Court judge has denied Burlington residents’ request to delay construction on the redevelopment project.
Earlier this year a group of residents appealed the project. The basic problem, their attorney argues, is Burlington’s infrastructure can’t support the 14 stories high project, especially the parking.
“The new garage they’re building, it’s not going to serve all the parking demand in this new project because it’s going to serve half the residential demand,” says John Franco, Attorney for the residents who oppose the project. “It’s not going to provide parking for the net new retail demand.”
Mayor Miro Weinberger says it’s that new retail and housing development that’s at risk.
“It’s really important that these go forward promptly,” says Mayor Weinberger. “The one real risk with these appeals is that the economy changes and circumstances change whereas right now would be a very good time to go forward and build, that may not be the case if that gets held up another year or 18 months or two years.”
The owner and manager of the redevelopment project says he’s pleased with the court’s decision. In a statement Don Sinex said the project will bring in “more retail offices and more revenue for the city. We should be working together to make it successful and bring these benefits to Burlington.”
The judge said investors can move forward with the project, but cautioned investors that the move carries risk with further action by the court still up in the air.
“He not only said that the developer proceeds at his own risk, but repeatedly said that the developer runs the risk that if the decision of the Environmental Division is different, the developer can be required to go in and tear down and change stuff that’s already been built,” says Franco.