The University of Vermont Medical Center will be leasing office space in the heart of downtown Burlington.
As a part of the current redevelopment project of the Burlington Town Center, the Medical Center will open non-clinical office space to support an additional 350 to 400 administrative jobs, according to an April 4 press release from BTC.
The Medical Center will move into the new space in January 2019 when its other leases expire, according to the press release.
The new location will give UVM Medical Center an opportunity to increase its cost-effectiveness and efficiency in the Burlington community, said Dr. John Brumsted, CEO of UVM Medical Center, in the press release.
“We are happy to keep our close connection to Burlington and to strengthen its downtown with our highly skilled workforce,” Brumsted said.
The redevelopment process has been underway since the Devonwood Investors took over the space about two years ago, said Elizabeth Miller, a consultant on the project.
“Office space draws workers downtown which increases economic vitality for the city as a whole,” Miller said. “[It also] allows people to live and work within the same downtown area.”
She said when Devonwood came in, Burlington was very clear that redevelopment needed to achieve the goals of PlanBTV—Mayor Miro Weinberger’s city planning project committed to creating a more vibrant, accessible and engaging downtown.
The goal of the project is to increase the connectivity of the downtown area, by restoring the streetscape and drawing people down from Church Street Marketplace to Lake Champlain, Miller said.
The project includes building a new St. Paul Street to connect Bank Street and Cherry Street, reconnecting public access on Pine Street, and “turning the mall inside out,” she said. The project aims to build storefronts that face onto the streets and sidewalks, promoting a more engaging, inviting downtown.
Devonwood’s goal is to improve the environment of the other streets around the city as well, by widening sidewalks and connecting stores more to street, Miller said.
Besides additional retail and office space, the BTC redevelopment will offer an additional 274 apartment units in the downtown area.
“This is bigger than any project they’ve seen in years in terms of number of units available to the city,” Miller said.
By increasing housing availability downtown, Devonwood is hoping to alleviate housing pressure in certain neighborhoods, and help increase the vacancy rate and high rental cost of downtown housing options, she said.
The current rental vacancy rate in Burlington is 3.7 percent. This is lower than Vermont’s average of 4.15 percent, and the national average of 6.32 percent.
Kevin Chiang, professor in the Grossman School of Business, released a study of the economic impact of the redevelopment project in March.
The construction on the project will create an additional 941 jobs, while the redevelopment itself will create 1,296 new jobs, according to the study.
Both Sinex and Miller said the current mall is not serving the residents of Burlington as well as it could be.
“Redeveloping this central downtown site is critical to keeping Burlington vibrant and welcoming,” Sinex said. He said by opening up the street fronts with better shops, restaurants and services, the entire Burlington community will benefit, and more visitors will be attracted to the city.
Sinex said opening up significant new housing downtown will also allow residents to work and play right in the same area, and will benefit the universities in the city, too.
“This will strengthen UVM’s profile as an excellent public university located in one of the most beautiful, livable small cities in America,” he said.