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Development

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sinex to Proceed With BTC Mall Redevelopment After Stay Denied

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 9:22 PM

Don Sinex speaks at a press conference in December 2016. - FILE: KATIE JICKLING
  • File: Katie Jickling
  • Don Sinex speaks at a press conference in December 2016.
A judge from the environmental division of the Vermont Superior Court has cleared another obstacle in the effort to redevelop the Burlington Town Center. On Monday, Judge Thomas Walsh denied a request to delay construction by a group that opposes the project.

With the ruling, developer Don Sinex plans to move ahead with the project and begin construction in midsummer, according to spokesperson Liz Miller.

"I am pleased with this decision denying a stay; it is a good step forward for the Burlington Town Center redevelopment," Sinex said in a statement. "Rather than fight, we wish [the opponents] would join with us and the many Burlington residents who already support this project."

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Burlington's Pine Street Deli Closes Its Doors

Posted By on Wed, May 10, 2017 at 5:50 PM

MIke Alvanos - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • MIke Alvanos
The Pine Street Deli closed early on Wednesday, its final day in business. By 3 p.m., the coolers were empty, the shelves were bare and even the bread had been snatched up by a surge of customers who dropped by a final time.

Employee Taylor Courville gestured toward the coolers. "All we have left is cream and beer," he said.

The Alvanos family has owned the popular sandwich shop and convenience store on the corner of Pine Street and Flynn Avenue for 11 years. The building is to be demolished and replaced by a new one with 30 studio and one-bedroom apartments.

It's been a four-year process to design the new building and secure permits, said Michael Alvanos, who helps run the deli. The closing of the family operation wasn't particularly emotional, Alvanos said. "We have a lot more work to do," he said with a shrug.

The building will have two commercial spaces on the first floor. Alvanos said he hopes to have a restaurant, but couldn't say for sure if he'd reopen Pine Street Deli.

Demolition is scheduled to begin in early June, he said.
The proposed building - COURTESY OF REDSTONE
  • Courtesy of Redstone
  • The proposed building
The deli is owned by Alvanos' parents, George and Christine Alvanos. The family previously operated the Parkway Diner near Burlington International Airport. Michael Alvanos, his brother Evan, and Taylor Courville also own the Guilty Plate Diner in Colchester.

"We wanted to design ourselves a project that we feel will support all the great things going on on Pine Street," said Alvanos, who also works as an architect for JRMA Design Studio.

This project would help the restaurant owners make ends meet, Alvanos said. He called the housing options in Burlington "anemic" and said the development would allow the family to diversify its sources of income.

Alvanos sees the development as a way to strengthen his family's ties to the South End. He grew up in the area, as did his mother. "We have a great strong connection to this area," Alvanos said. "We want to put something here that's going to last a long time."

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

With Code Violations Pending, Bove Empties Building for Renovation

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 3:10 PM

Stannard House - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Stannard House
A historic Burlington building owned by the Bove family near their now-closed Italian eatery has racked up 38 code violations.

But real estate developer and pasta sauce company co-owner Rick Bove says a fix is on the menu. He's asked all tenants of the red brick building at the corner of Pearl and George streets to move by June 1 so he can renovate the property.

Bove said he delayed making repairs at 3-11 George Street because of a $500,000 top-to-bottom renovation set to start shortly on the one-time domicile of General George J. Stannard, a Civil War hero.

More recently, the two-story building has been the subject of numerous skirmishes with the city over upkeep.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Conservation Groups Buy Exit 4 Land Once Slated for Development

Posted By on Tue, Apr 18, 2017 at 2:26 PM

Brian Shupe of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Tim Storrow of the Castanea Foundation - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Brian Shupe of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and Tim Storrow of the Castanea Foundation
Randolph developer Jesse "Sam" Sammis spent well more than half a decade seeking the permits for a large-scale development and rest stop around Interstate 89's Exit 4. But that land now is going to be preserved.

At a press conference near the Randolph interchange Tuesday, conservation groups announced that the Castanea Foundation will buy most of the 172-acre parcel. The Montpelier nonprofit will pay $1.2 million for 149 acres, and plans to resell it to Ayers Brook Goat Dairy, which supplies milk to Vermont Creamery.* The remaining 22.5 acres will be sold to the Preservation Trust of Vermont, if the organization can raise the agreed upon sum — $1 million — by June 15.

The agreement comes after a lengthy battle between the Greenwich, Conn., developer and local environmentalists. Sammis had been proceeding with the permitting to construct a massive multiuse development at the interchange. Plans included a welcome center, a rest stop, a 180-room hotel and conference center, as well as 274 homes, a fitness center, and light industrial space.

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Monday, April 17, 2017

Burlington City Council to Consider Biking and Walking Master Plan

Posted By on Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 5:04 PM

Oakledge Park - CALEB KENNA
  • Caleb Kenna
  • Oakledge Park
The Burlington City Council is scheduled Monday to discuss, and vote on, a long-awaited blueprint for the future of city streets, sidewalks, paths and intersections.

Lead sponsor Max Tracy (P-Ward 2) called the 200-page document "a world class vision for walking and biking." At the Wards 2 and 3 Neighborhood Planning Assembly last Thursday, he urged residents to come to Monday's meeting to voice their support. "I'm really, really excited about this," he said.

PlanBTV Walk Bike is part of a Queen City effort to achieve a "Gold Level" designation as a bike-friendly municipality, which requires that 65 percent of its roads have bike lanes. Currently, 12 percent of Burlington streets — 11.9 miles — have bike lanes.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Raymond James Firm to Pay $145.5 Million to Settle Vermont EB-5 Suit

Posted By on Thu, Apr 13, 2017 at 8:07 PM

Court-appointed receiver Michael Goldberg discusses the settlement as Gov.  Phil Scott looks on. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Court-appointed receiver Michael Goldberg discusses the settlement as Gov. Phil Scott looks on.
A $145.5 million settlement with the financial services firm Raymond James & Associates will allow scores of Vermont contractors and foreign investors to be paid for losses related to Northeast Kingdom EB-5 development projects, officials announced Thursday evening.

The announcement came a year after federal and state prosecutors levied fraud charges against Jay Peak developers Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, alleging they misappropriated $200 million raised through the federal EB-5 immigrant investment program.

“What a difference a year makes,” said Michael Goldberg, the federally appointed receiver who has been managing the Jay Peak and Burke Mountain ski resorts since shortly after news of the scandal broke.

Goldberg reached the settlement with Raymond James after accusing the firm of helping Quiros mix investments and defraud investors. By agreeing to the settlement, which is subject to approval by a federal judge in Miami, Raymond James is not admitting any wrongdoing, Goldberg said.

“They stepped up to the plate. They faced their responsibilities,” Goldberg said. The $145.5 million comes on top of a previous $4.5 million settlement Raymond James reached with the state last year.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mall Company Pledges Financing for Burlington Town Center Project

Posted By on Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 9:19 PM

Don Sinex speaks at a press conference in December 2016. - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Don Sinex speaks at a press conference in December 2016.
Burlington Town Center owner Don Sinex has locked down a partnership and secured the funding needed to move forward on the $225 million mixed-use development, he announced Tuesday.

Sinex's company Devonwood Investors, LLC is set to enter into a joint venture agreement with Rouse Properties, a New York City-based company that owns and operates malls around the country.

The newly announced partnership means the project is on track to break ground in "June or July," Sinex told Seven Days on Tuesday.

"The important thing to announce to the community is the funds are in hand," Sinex said.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Opinion
Walters: EB-5 Records Release a ‘Balancing Act’

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 1:05 PM

Happier Times: Congressman Peter Welch, Bill Stenger, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, governor Peter Shumlin, Ariel Quiros and William Kelly in Newport in September 2012. - COURTESY: BILL STENGER
  • Courtesy: Bill Stenger
  • Happier Times: Congressman Peter Welch, Bill Stenger, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Bernie Sanders, governor Peter Shumlin, Ariel Quiros and William Kelly in Newport in September 2012.
The Scott administration announced this week a new process for expediting release of records from the Jay Peak fraud case. The former operators of Jay Peak are accused of defrauding investors under the federal EB-5 program, which allows foreign nationals to get American green cards in exchange for investing in qualifying development projects.

VTDigger.org, the online news service, has been pursuing the release of related documents for years, and has faced delays and rejections from state officials. The Scott administration has promised a fresh approach to public records requests — but there are significant limits.

“I think it’s good news that the governor wants to release more records on EB-5,” says Anne Galloway, VTDigger founder and editor. “The bad news is, it would appear that an awful lot of information could be withheld on the grounds of attorney-client privilege and the work product rule.”

The work product rule blocks disclosure of materials prepared in preparation for possible litigation. Think of it as an extension of attorney-client privilege.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Not So Fast: Opposition to Appeal Burlington Town Center Permit

Posted By on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 at 8:13 PM

Rendering of the Burlington Town Center from Pine St. - PROVIDED COURTESY OF PKSB ARCHITECTS
  • Provided courtesy of PKSB Architects
  • Rendering of the Burlington Town Center from Pine St.
Just as soon as the Burlington Town Center received the go-ahead from the Development Review Board Monday night, the opposition group Coalition for a Livable City announced that it would appeal the decision.

Burlington Attorney John Franco, who represents 57 Burlington residents who oppose the project, said Tuesday that he will file a challenge to the zoning permit by mid-April.

Franco said this latest appeal is not merely a Hail Mary effort to halt the development. He ticked off a laundry list of complaints, including the setup of proposed parking lots and the impact of the project on local businesses.

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Burlington Town Center Project Gets the Green Light

Posted By on Mon, Mar 13, 2017 at 7:08 PM

Rendering of Burlington Town Center as seen from Cherry and St. Paul streets - COURTESY OF PKSB ARCHITECTS
  • Courtesy of PKSB Architects
  • Rendering of Burlington Town Center as seen from Cherry and St. Paul streets
 The proposal to rebuild the Burlington Town Center cleared its final major hurdle Monday when the city's Development Review Board granted approval to Don Sinex's multi-use project.

The board voted unanimously, with one recusal, to grant the zoning permit as Sinex's development team and onlookers lined the walls of a cramped meeting room in Burlington City Hall.

The DRB decision came after three lengthy public hearings and two deliberative hearings on the design minutia of the project, involving building materials, construction schedules, awnings and even the varieties of trees to be planted.

Sinex said the final product represents a series of revisions and improvements. "We've gone through a long, exhaustive, collaborative process," he told reporters after the meeting.

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