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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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Monday, July 10, 2017

Burlington Business Owner Buys Blodgett Oven Property

Posted By on Mon, Jul 10, 2017 at 3:00 AM

A Blodgett employee works in the assembly line - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • A Blodgett employee works in the assembly line
The Blodgett Oven plant was abuzz with a racket of metal and a flurry of movement Friday morning. Machines clanked and groaned, a forklift beeped as it navigated crates of steel and equipment, and the sound of the radio rang out above it all.

Not for long: After 72 years at the site — and 169 in Burlington — the facility will go quiet next year, making way for new owners who plan to transform the old manufacturing space. Blodgett Oven is moving after the company purchased a 180,000-square-foot facility in Essex from Miller Realty.

Now, Burlington business owner Russ Scully has bought the three-building, 16-acre property along the waterfront in Burlington's South End. The two parties closed the deal on June 23, according to Erica Havers, vice president and controller of Blodgett. Scully paid $14.3 million for the property, which is assessed at just over $4.1 million, according to city documents.

Scully has been tightlipped about his plans for the property, but he — along with his wife, Roxanne — already have a variety of water-related businesses in Burlington; now they also have some waterfront.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Construction to Begin After Sides Settle Burlington Town Center Legal Disputes

Posted By on Wed, Jul 5, 2017 at 6:21 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
Developer Don Sinex and an opposition group of city residents reached a settlement agreement Wednesday that will allow redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center to proceed.

The agreement requires Sinex to include an additional 200 spaces of parking in the basement of the development, which includes buildings of up to 14 stories. Sinex also agreed, in phase one of the project, to not sign a master lease to provide housing for Champlain College or other university students, according to a joint press release issued by both parties.

It also stipulates that any future development of Sinex-owned property at the Burlington Town Center site would not reach more than 10 stories.

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Monday, July 3, 2017

Blodgett Oven to Leave Its Prime Lakefront Property in Burlington

Posted By on Mon, Jul 3, 2017 at 12:46 PM

Blodgett Oven's current building on Lakeside Avenue - MATTHEW ROY
  • Matthew Roy
  • Blodgett Oven's current building on Lakeside Avenue
Blodgett Oven will move to Essex after 169 years in Burlington — and a group of investors has purchased its sprawling industrial complex on the shore of Lake Champlain in the Lakeside neighborhood.

The future of the coveted Lakeside Avenue property, with shoreline and expansive views of the Adirondacks across the lake, has been the subject of speculation for years. Investors using the name Lakeside Ovens LLC purchased it on June 23. The group paid $14.3 million — well above the grand list value of $4.1 million.

Matt Daly, the Burlington attorney representing the buyers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

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