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Monday, December 4, 2017

Sold: That Burlington House Under Construction Since 1969

Posted By and on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 4:15 PM

The front of 97 Dunder Road - FILE: SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • FILE: Sasha Goldstein
  • The front of 97 Dunder Road
A home that's been under construction for nearly five decades has new owners.

The long-unfinished structure at 97 Dunder Road has been a source of controversy. Some consider it an eyesore in a well-kept South End neighborhood.

Tom Walsh purchased the property from the current owners, Don and Carroll Albertson, on November 2 for $350,000, according to city records. His friend Eric Flegenheimer, who is also on the sales deed, helped with the sale and closing, Walsh said.

Walsh, who lives in Charlotte, filed for city permits to renovate the home in early November and said he plans to move in with his family next spring. "It's kind of uneventful," Walsh said. "I bought it and we're going to finish it, and then we're going to live in it."

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UVM Inks Deal to Sell Land in South Burlington for $3 Million

Posted By on Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 3:12 PM

The parcels that would be sold - UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
  • University of Vermont
  • The parcels that would be sold
The University of Vermont has finalized terms to sell 44 acres in South Burlington to a private housing developer for at least $3 million. Up to 176 units could be built on the property, near the corner of Swift and Spear Streets.

It's about 1.5 miles from campus, south of Interstate 189.

A land swap is an element of the deal, which was signed Monday. Under the contract, developer Frank von Turkovich will give UVM 22 acres of land adjacent to the UVM acreage he plans to acquire.

The 22 acres are at 150 Swift Street, next to the UVM East Woods natural area. UVM will use the new land for walking, biking and other recreation, according to the contract. It could also be used for parking and for restrooms for the recreation area, and for utilities serving the new housing.

The final purchase price could be more than $3 million, but it's unclear how much more. The university blacked out a clause defining a "supplemental price" that can be added to the $3 million, subject to various conditions in the contract with Swift & Spear Associates, where von Turkovich is manager.

One of the conditions is that the development not exceed 176 housing units.

Seven Days obtained the contract in a public records request.

The closing will not take place until von Turkovich, a South Burlington resident, obtains local approval for the housing as well as a state environmental permit under Act 250.

Von Turkovich must convince the city to change the zoning for a portion of the land. He has until January 31, 2019 to obtain the zoning change and April 30, 2020 to obtain municipal and state permits under the contract deadline.

Otherwise, UVM can back out of the deal.

The South Burlington Land Trust came out against the sale after UVM issued a request for proposals earlier this year. The group has contended that dense housing is inappropriate in the area, and that it would disrupt animal habitat in the East Woods natural area. Water quality problems in Potash Brook could worsen, critics say.

UVM has argued that the land is only a few miles from downtown Burlington and would provide much needed housing.

In a statement released by UVM, von Turkovich vowed to work closely with residents of South Burlington:

As a local developer and neighbor of the site, I am looking forward to sharing our vision of the project, one that includes adding needed homes to the neighborhood while also adding features such as expanded networks of walking and biking trails that will enhance the quality of life. As we are in the beginning stages of developing the proposal, we have a unique opportunity to have a conversation with local groups to refine our project and ensure it respects the community’s values prior to entering the city’s regulatory process.
The contract gives UVM the option to buy or rent the new housing units. UVM would have a similar opportunity at a different von Turkovich development close to campus in Burlington, on Colchester Avenue.

UVM vice president for executive operations Gary Derr said the redacted information in the contract was exempt from public disclosure in an email to Seven Days. Enrique Corredera, UVM executive director of news and public affairs, would not provide details on the supplemental price or offer additional information on why it was blacked out.

Seven Days is appealing the redaction.

UVM selected Swift & Spear Associates because their proposal most closely fit with the institution's vision for the development of new housing, according to UVM's statement.

"The proposal adds needed homes to the community, at the right scale, and adds value to the overall neighborhood through an expanded walking and biking trail network and the enhancement of our East Woods Natural Area,” said John Evans, UVM senior adviser to the president and provost.

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Monday, November 20, 2017

Tight Squeeze: Winooski Parking Garage Squabble Lands in Court

Posted By on Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 8:41 PM

Spinner Place in Winooski - ANDY DUBACK
  • Andy Duback
  • Spinner Place in Winooski
This story was updated at 11:53 on November 21, 2017.

Competition for spaces in Winooski's downtown municipal parking garage landed in court Monday.

Lenders connected to Spinner Place, a 312-unit student apartment complex, filed suit against the City of Winooski in U.S. District Court, claiming that the city unfairly terminated a garage lease for building residents last January.

The city "illegally took parking dedicated to, and needed by, downtown residents and gave the parking as an incentive to other developers," said a statement issued Monday by Montpelier lawyer Ronald Shems, who represents the Spinner Place lenders. The loss of parking "severely limited" the ability to fully rent the units and created additional costs, the statement continued.

The city has "oversubscribed" the 916-space garage with lease agreements for 923 spaces and now refuses to consider a long-term lease with Spinner Place, the suit says.

It seeks an injunction requiring the city to enter into a long-term parking lease with Spinner Place and pay damages and legal costs.

The lawsuit was filed by UMB Bank of Kansas City, Mo. It is the trustee for bondholders who helped finance the construction of Spinner Place in 2004 through the Vermont Housing Finance Agency.

In a statement issued Tuesday morning, Winooski City Manager Jessie Baker said municipal officials are working on creative solutions to meet the long-term parking needs of Spinner Place residents and others.

"People want to live and work in Winooski," Baker's statement reads. "This is a good problem to have. We look forward to continued conversations in partnership with all the downtown property owners to ensure that parking needs are met."

It also suggested that the lawsuit was not the right approach.

"We are disappointed that the UMB Trustee has opted to sue the city instead of continuing discussions about long-term parking solutions," Baker stated. "We are hopeful that the parties can come to agreed upon terms and avoid lawsuits that ultimately cost the taxpayers."

Earlier this year, Baker defended the city's management of the garage and said a study was under way to respond to concerns about parking for Spinner Place and downtown employers including MyWebGrocer.

Competition for slots in the city garage has intensified with the successful $200 million-plus redevelopment of downtown Winooski over the past dozen years. Some have started calling the old mill city the Brooklyn of Burlington.

But this Brooklyn lacks a subway system to help people travel car-free.

Parking woes are by now familiar. Both a proposed hotel and a proposed live music venue in Winooski, the Strand, have triggered opposition from some residents and business owners who are worried that new development will aggravate the parking crunch.

The lawsuit says the City of Winooski first entered into a parking agreement with Spinner Place in 2004 for 230 spaces. The agreement was amended and extended at least three times, the suit says.

Then on October 3, 2016, the city issued a letter to the property manager of Spinner Place, Hallkeen Management, stating that effective January 1, 2017 it "will no longer be leasing spaces in the garage to customers without a long-term contract, including Spinner Place residents."

The letter further stated that "public metered spaces are available for use by any garage customer displaced by this change," according to the lawsuit.

The suit says that the metered rate is "more than four times greater than typical monthly residential parking rates for downtown parking, and grossly out of proportion with fair market student parking rates."

In the meantime, the suit says, the city has leased spaces in the garage to other entities including a "yet-to-be developed concert and performing arts venue," an apparent reference to the Strand project.

The city agreement with the nightclub developers would provide up to 550 spaces in the parking garage for evening and weekend events — "the same time that Spinner Place residents are typically at home and need parking," the lawsuit states.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Burlingtonians Speak Out to Save Memorial Auditorium

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 1:16 PM

Memorial Auditorium - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Memorial Auditorium
Burlington residents came out en masse Tuesday night to advocate for the preservation of Memorial Auditorium.

More than 70 people filled City Hall for a public forum on the shuttered building, which organizers hope to see renovated. Many in attendance waxed nostalgic on concerts and events at the city's old community center.

Neighborhood planning assemblies from across Burlington organized the event after city officials expressed hesitance to move forward with a public dialogue, said Jim Holway, a New North End resident and chair of the organizing committee. "The community is saying we want to have a conversation," he said.

That message came loud and clear from attendees who want to keep Memorial publicly owned. "We can make Memorial Auditorium really special and useful, a gift to our next generation, and I'd like to see that happen," said James Lockridge, who has launched a campaign to restore the 242 Main teen center that once called the building home.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sailing Center Sends Out SOS for Funding

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 2:20 PM

Work continued on the new  building Tuesday. - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • Work continued on the new building Tuesday.
Construction workers are busy putting the final touches on the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center's new building. But the project on the Burlington waterfront hit rough water earlier this month.

On September 15, the Center issued an SOS for donations to help cover a $1.7 million funding gap for the nearly complete, 22,180-square-foot building. It's located a five-minute walk north of the center's current dilapidated digs, next to the shuttered Moran Plant.

The shortfall is the result of an "unforeseen and unpredictable wrinkle,"
the center's executive director, Owen Milne, and board chair Karen Marshall wrote in the letter to donors and community supporters.

Specifically, the center had banked on equity from New Market Tax Credits to fund the final construction payment of $1.7 million. Its leaders believed the new building at 505 Lake Street fell in a qualifying U.S. Census tract for the federal program, according to the letter.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Read All About It: South Burlington Library Plans to Move to the Mall

Posted By on Thu, Sep 7, 2017 at 12:45 PM

University Mall - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • University Mall
The University Mall will welcome a new tenant this fall — the South Burlington Community Library.

The South Burlington City Council on Tuesday approved a three-year lease for the library to take over an empty retail space in the mall at a cost of $45,000 per year.

It's meant to be a stopgap arrangement as city officials work to raise funds and plan for a new five-story public building intended to house both city hall and the library.

City officials hope to open the mall space in mid-November in a storefront next to the Bon-Ton department store, on the north side of the building near the parking garage.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

No New Moran: Burlington Ends Old Plant Redevelopment Talks

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Moran Plant - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Moran Plant
Updated at 5:42 p.m.

Burlington’s multiyear effort to redevelop the decrepit Moran Plant is no more.

Mayor Miro Weinberger announced Friday that the city has abandoned its negotiations with New Moran, a group of developers who were working to bring new life to the old coal-fired power plant along the city’s waterfront. Instead, the building will likely be demolished and the site remediated — at a price tag of at least $4 million and upwards of $10.7 million, according to city estimates.

At a press conference Friday afternoon in City Hall Park, Weinberger painted redevelopment as a valiant effort at a Sisyphean task. “What the New Moran team was trying to do was very hard,” he told reporters. “There’s a reason that for more than 30 years this building has remained abandoned and vacant.”

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

UVM to Sell 44 Acres of Prime, Undeveloped Land in South Burlington

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 5:09 PM

A view of the Martin Tract - UNIVERSITY OF VERMONT
  • University of Vermont
  • A view of the Martin Tract
The University of Vermont wants to sell off 44 acres of prime real estate it owns in South Burlington — to earn some revenue and to enable housing to be built on the property.

Developers have until August 18 to respond to a request for proposals that UVM issued June 20. The land is south of Interstate 189, near the intersection of Spear and Swift streets.

The solicitation seeks a buyer "with the intention of developing housing that will be made available to the community."

The undeveloped parcels are about about 1.5 miles from the campus, near the East Woods natural area.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

State Rejects Initial Application for Irasburg and Lowell Wind Project

Posted By on Mon, Jul 24, 2017 at 6:58 PM

A sign in Irasburg in December 2015 - FILE: IRASBURG RIDGELINE ALLIANCE
  • File: irasburg ridgeline alliance
  • A sign in Irasburg in December 2015
State regulators have dealt a blow to a proposed wind energy project on Kidder Hill in Irasburg and Lowell.

The Public Utility Commission issued a four-page ruling on Monday saying the application for the project, which was filed in June after years of debate, is incomplete and missing crucial information. The project calls for two turbines capable of powering 2,000 homes.

But the commission said central information, including specific locations of the turbines and an access road, an assessment of natural resources in the area, and whether blasting will occur, is missing.

The commission said it considers the application to have never been filed, forcing the project's backer, AllEarth Renewables CEO David Blittersdorf, to begin the process again.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Former Burlington Bottle Redemption Center to Become Recording Studio

Posted By on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 at 6:45 PM

The former Burlington Beverage Center will become a recording studio. - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The former Burlington Beverage Center will become a recording studio.
The sound of bass, drums and guitar will ring out in a space where bottles and cans once rattled and crashed when Tank Recording Studio moves into the now-closed Burlington Beverage Center on North Winooski Avenue.

Development company Redstone bought the triangle-shaped lot and ramshackle, one-story building in the Old North End last year. The Burlington Development Review Board on July 5 green-lighted soundproofing, new siding and new storefront doors — among other changes — at the former convenience store and bottle-redemption facility once a popular spot for "canners" who would bring around carts full of returnables.

"Everything is looking good and we're hopeful that it's going to be a cool element of creativity in the Old North End where Burlington-based bands and bands from other parts of the country can lay down tracks and make great music," said Redstone managing partner Erik Hoekstra.
The Burlington Beverage building - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The Burlington Beverage building
Tank's owners did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

According to Hoekstra, Tank is leasing the 3,200-square-foot space at 208-212 North Winooski and moving out of its space just down the road at 274 North Winooski.

The flies and sticky floors at the former redemption center will be a thing of the past.

"We are renovating and retrofitting the existing building. We are not tearing that building down, we are not starting all over," Hoekstra said. "We are working with what's there and trying to get rid of the sticky fly situation and breathe some new life into the building."

The Burlington Beverage Center closed last September after 38 years in operation. The closing forced many low-income neighborhood residents who collect returnables for income to find another redemption center — in some cases walking five miles to get there.

The zoning application indicated that up to six employees will work at the new studio, which anticipates maximum hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m, seven days a week.

The studio will help enliven an already vibrant corridor of shops, restaurants and residential buildings along the North Winooski corridor, according to the Redstone application to the DRB.

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