Blooming Onion | 20/20 Hindsight | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Blooming Onion 

Building confidence in Winooski's beleaguered downtown

Published May 25, 2016 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated May 31, 2016 at 3:54 p.m.

click to enlarge MICHAEL TONN
  • Michael Tonn

Originally published October 22, 2003.

The grand scheme to reinvent Winooski’s business district is already five years in the planning and is at least that many years from completion. The 21-acre parcel extends from Main Street east to the edge of a 104-acre wild area. When finished, the first phase of the project, estimated at some $165 million, will substantially alter traffic patterns and add hundreds of units of mixed housing, a 945-space parking deck, a new building for Winooski’s largest employer — Vermont Student Assistance Corporation — and office and retail space. In addition, it will revitalize the moribund Champlain Mill and, for the first time in the city’s history, provide public access to the waterfront with a riverwalk along the beautiful Winooski.

But everyone agrees that losing Higher Ground is a bummer.

Almost since its inception five years ago, the nightclub’s owners have lived with the knowledge that an impending development would displace them.

Booking agent Alex Crothers confesses to mixed feelings about the redevelopment project, whenever it occurs. “Downtown Winooski is essentially a parking lot, and it has so much potential,” he says.

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About The Author

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston is a cofounder and the Art Editor of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.

About the Artist

Michael Tonn

Michael Tonn

Michael Tonn is still just eating gummy bears outside the Shopping Bag in Burlington. To see more of his work and to get in touch, go to or @dead_moons on Instagram.


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