The Vermont Cynic

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Burlington mall to be redeveloped

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Students and Burlington residents may soon be able to live above the Burlington Mall on Church Street.

 

The Burlington Business Association gathered local businesses, nonprofits and organizations in front of the mall entrance on Church Street April 25, to speak to the benefits of developing downtown.

 

The project will create at least 270 residences. 54 units will be permanently affordable under the City’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance. An additional 110 units will be devoted to Champlain College student housing, according to the press release.

(Left to right) Architect Sherida Paulsen and property owner Don Sinex present their plans for the downtown mall renovation to the city council April 25.

Jen Ramirez (Left to right) Architect Sherida Paulsen and property owner Don Sinex present their plans for the downtown mall renovation to the city council April 25.

 

Permanently affordable housing means housing that will remain affordable for low-income families, according to Burlington’s website.

 

Junior Jordan Leabman expressed concerns over the price of the new housing.

 

“I bet it’s going to be fucking expensive,” Leabman said.

 

She also said she does not want the Burlington skyline to change.

 

Senior Sandey Hallbing said she supports the idea of redevelopment.

 

“It’s about time Burlington expanded a little bit,” Hallbing said. “There’s not even close to enough housing right now.”  

 

Construction will create more than 500 temporary construction jobs and 900 permanent jobs in retail and office operations, according to the BBA press release.  

 

Some of these jobs will be supported by proposed UVM Medical Center offices.

 

“We’re looking forward to bringing many employees to our downtown offices and their activity downtown –like going out to lunch — that goes along with that,” said John Brahmstead, CEO of the College of Medicine.

 

The project developer will pay livable wages to all construction workers, according to the press release.

 

Vermont Interfaith Action was supportive of new housing options.

 

“Our main purpose is to affect systemic change and lift people out of poverty,” said Debbie Ingram, Vermont Interfaith’s executive director. “Providing jobs and housing will do both. We see this as a step for justice.”.

 

The American Association of Retired Persons also expressed support for design principles in the new housing that will accommodate the elderly.

 

“Universal design aspects [like flat entryways] will be incorporated throughout construction that will be better for older people to age gracefully and make the whole development accessible to people of all ages,” said Greg Marchildon, state director for AARP Vermont.    

The project will also re-establish St. Paul Street and Pine Street as main streets connecting the Old North End  to downtown Burlington, said Emily Boedecker, executive director of Local Motion.

 

Local Motion is a local nonprofit that promotes methods of transportation different from driving.

 

“[Reconnecting Pine and St. Paul Streets will] bring biking back to the city,” Boedecker said. “Biking means community building, window shopping. We’re excited to see the state of the art bike commuting facilities.”

 

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger voiced his support for the project as well.

 

“In recent years I have sensed an emerging consensus among Burlingtonians of the need for mixed-use infill redevelopment of underutilized properties within our downtown,” Weinberger said. “[We’re making] a more bikeable, walkable, affordable, vibrant and sustainable Burlington.”

 

Senior Alex Lockhart said he supports the idea of improved bike paths and walkways.

 

“I think one of Burlington’s greatest attributes is its pedestrian/bike friendly streets, so if this would further improve this while adding new restaurants to the scene, I’m for it,” Lockhart said.

 

Also in attendance were representatives from Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Congress and Zandy Wheeler, owner of local SkiRack and Patagonia stores.  

 

Project developer Don Sinex expressed commitment to keeping community members involved in an evolving and adapting design project.

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Burlington mall to be redeveloped