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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

To Restart Construction, Burlington Amends CityPlace Agreement

Posted By on Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 12:27 AM

The vacant Burlington Town Center construction site - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • The vacant Burlington Town Center construction site
The backhoes and crane have been quiet at the site of the mostly demolished Burlington Town Center. Developer Don Sinex has lacked the construction financing necessary under a development agreement with the city to move ahead with the next step: pouring the foundation for the 14-story CityPlace Burlington.

The Burlington City Council voted 8-2 Monday to alter that agreement in order to get things moving again. Mayor Miro Weinberger had requested in a letter late Friday that the council allow Sinex to build the foundation before he has a contract for the rest of the project.

City councilors raised questions in interviews Monday about what the changes would mean for the project, and whether approving the changes would put the city at greater risk if the project were to fail.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Survey Says: Burlingtonians Want to Renovate, Restore Memorial Auditorium

Posted By on Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 9:20 PM

Memorial Auditorium - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Memorial Auditorium
The results are in: Queen City residents appear enthusiastic about a full-scale renovation of Memorial Auditorium, even if there's a sizable price tag.

Burlingtonians who responded to a survey this summer want the 91-year-old building dedicated once again to its historic uses as an entertainment venue, civic gathering space and farmers market. Eighty-five percent of respondents also said they would "definitely support" or "probably support" the renovation of the building.

Jerry Lindsley, president of the consulting firm hired by the city to conduct the survey, presented the findings Thursday to about two dozen people at Burlington City Hall.

"There's an affinity for this building," said Lindsley, of the Center for Research & Public Policy, in summarizing the survey results. "It appears [a bond vote] would be successful."

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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Walters: State of Vermont Settles EB-5 Civil Cases

Posted By on Thu, Jul 12, 2018 at 4:32 PM

The Hole in downtown Newport - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • The Hole in downtown Newport
Gov. Phil Scott and Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan announced on Thursday the settlement of civil lawsuits against Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger, the two key figures in the EB-5 scandal. The deal will net at least $2.1 million for economic development efforts in the city of Newport and the Northeast Kingdom, the places most impacted by the failure of Quiros' and Stenger's real estate ventures.

Scott, Donovan and numerous other officials announced the settlements at a press conference on Newport's City Dock, on the shore of Lake Memphremagog. "This is a major step forward as we continue to recover from the effects of the EB-5 developments," said Scott. "The dark cloud that's been hanging over us is beginning to lift."

The settlements will clear the way for an independent investigation of the role played by officials in the administration of Peter Shumlin, who was governor when Stenger and Quiros' abuses of the EB-5 program took place. Auditor Doug Hoffer will lead the probe; he gave no timeline for its completion, noting that his staff will be sorting through more than a million pages of documents.

The closing of the civil cases should also allow Newport to explore opportunities to develop "The Hole," an entire downtown block that was razed to make room for one of the Quiros/Stenger projects, and which has remained a blight on the city's streetscape. "We are now moving forward with the development of Main Street," said Newport Mayor Paul Monette. "We can start over and create our own destiny."

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Colchester Causeway Reopens After Storm Damage Repairs

Posted By on Fri, Jun 29, 2018 at 6:24 PM

The Colchester causeway in April 2018 - FILE: SASHA GOLDSTEIN
  • File: Sasha Goldstein
  • The Colchester causeway in April 2018
Bikers will be able to cross Lake Champlain from Colchester to the islands this Fourth of July weekend. The Island Line Trail is back open following a May storm that caused severe damage.

Gov. Phil Scott helped reopen the causeway at a press conference on Friday where he praised the "can-do attitude" of the workers who helped get the trail back up and running.

The bike ferry, which is operated by cycling organization Local Motion, will also start running, transporting bikers across the 200-foot cut to South Hero.

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Monday, June 25, 2018

Burlington Officials Lay Out Vision for Memorial Auditorium Process

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2018 at 9:06 PM

Memorial Auditorium - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Memorial Auditorium
The city of Burlington will move forward with a public process to determine the future of Memorial Auditorium. It could result in a bond vote to pay for renovations to the dilapidated auditorium as early as November, according to acting Community and Economic Development Office director Neale Lunderville.

CEDO has hired a consulting firm to send out a postcard to every Burlington resident this month, urging them to take an online survey to weigh in on the purpose and design of the building at the corner of South Union and Main streets.

"We want to see what the public thinks is the highest and best use for the building," Lunderville said Monday during an interview with Seven Days.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

South Burlington Motel Residents Worry About Its Planned Demolition

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2018 at 1:08 PM

Gasoline mogul Skip Vallee wants to demolish the extended-stay Maple Leaf Motel on Route 7 in South Burlington to make way for a large service station and convenience store — leading residents to fret about where they'll live.

Some say they'll have nowhere to go, given the shortage of affordable housing in Chittenden County.

"They are going to make us homeless," predicted Jamie Thompson.

Thompson works as an aide for a special-needs child and has lived in a one-bedroom efficiency at the motel for three years, she said. She pays $500 a month, and so does her roommate, who Thompson said works at a gas station and a Dunkin' Donuts.

It will be very difficult to find an equivalent $1,000-a-month rental anywhere nearby, Thompson said.

"I don't know what's going to happen," she said. "I really don't. It's a scary thing."

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Entrepreneurship Community Planned for Cambrian Rise

Posted By on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 at 4:50 PM

  • Courtesy of Lincoln Brown Illustration
  • Rendering of Cambrian Rise
Vermont's first co-living and coworking business accelerator will find a home at Burlington's Cambrian Rise.

Local investors will help pay for and design one of 12 buildings that will make up the development. The "innovation hub" will allow entrepreneurs to work and learn together, get access to startup funds for business, and live in a place that facilitates "the intense collision of ideas and mentoring," according to a description of the project provided by its creators.

The project, called the Vermont Innovation Commons, will "bring talent and capital and business growth and, ultimately, jobs to a place that really needs it," said Mark Naud, who's heading up the effort. "There's ... nothing like that in the state of Vermont or in Burlington, certainly."

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Media Note: WPTZ-TV Announces Move From Colchester to South Burlington

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2018 at 1:31 PM

A TV satellite receiver - KOBFUJAR | DREAMSTIME.COM
  • Kobfujar |
  • A TV satellite receiver
WPTZ-TV plans to vacate its crowded digs in Colchester for a new studio
in South Burlington, the NBC affiliate announced Tuesday.

The station's Plattsburgh bureau will stay open, but the technical hub located there now will move to the new location in the Technology Park at 30 Community Drive in South Burlington. The move will happen by next spring.

The station, known as NBC5, also announced that it will open a new bureau in Lebanon, N.H., and close the one it currently runs on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River in White River Junction.

The station's workforce of roughly 90 employees in New York and Vermont won't change in size. But some jobs will move from New York to Vermont, said Justin Antoniotti, president and general manager of WPTZ and WNNE, which serves the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Burlington Councilors Take a Ride Along the Champlain Parkway

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 11:27 PM

Mayor Miro Weinberger and Councilor Joan Shannon conferring over Parkway plans - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger and Councilor Joan Shannon conferring over Parkway plans
Burlington city councilors on Monday left the confines of City Hall for a field trip to the South End.

The group boarded two buses to scope out the route of the Champlain Parkway, the long-planned, 2.3-mile strip of highway that would connect Interstate 189 to downtown Burlington. The journey was part of a necessity hearing, where property owners whose land would be purchased to make way for the project could voice their objections.

The council's "yes" vote later Monday evening took the city one step closer to completing the four-decade-old project. Construction is scheduled to start in spring 2019.

But it wasn't all business for the councilors, Mayor Miro Weinberger, city and state workers, and a couple dozen members of the public who came along for the ride. From one of the two University of Vermont buses, councilors waved cheerily to a family at a barbecue outside a home on Batchelder Street and convened a brief council meeting on the pavement in front of the Department of Public Works.

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Facing Another Dry Summer, Winooski Residents Press for a New City Pool

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 11:27 PM

The bone-dry pool - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The bone-dry pool
Facing another summer without a city pool, Winooski residents crowded into a City Council meeting Monday night to push for a bond vote to finance a new one.

About 25 residents turned out. Many voiced frustration that there will be no pool for the third summer in a row. The aging Myers Memorial Pool closed in 2015.

Several people suggested that the bond for a new pool should have taken priority over the $23 million Main Street reconstruction project that voters approved earlier this month.

"I personally feel that this bond issue should have gone before," said resident Pat Everts.

"People are incredibly frustrated," added Sarah McGowan-Freije.

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