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.
The two parties hammered out the compromise, with former mayor Peter Clavelle mediating, during half a dozen meetings in May and June, according to attorney John Franco, who represented the opposition group. The settlement, which takes care of all outstanding legal claims by the residents, must first be approved in environmental court.
Under the agreement, Sinex will also establish a $500,000 charitable fund, managed by the Vermont Community Foundation, "to fund projects that preserve and promote Burlington's essential character," according to the release.
"I think this settlement is the right balance for all of us — the parties, the project and the city as a whole. I am eager to get this approved by the court and to start this transformative project," Sinex said.
File: Katie Jickling
Don Sinex speaks at a press conference in December 2016.
The agreement means construction will likely soon begin for a project first proposed nearly three years ago.
After voters approved two mall-related ballot measures in November, a group of residents, represented by Franco, filed a series of legal challenges against Sinex and the project. Among the named plaintiffs were city residents Barbara McGrew, Michael Long, Lynn Martin and Steve Goodkind.
Besides the additional parking, the project design will not be altered. The 10-story height limit would apply only to future construction — which is not yet planned, Franco said.
Mayor Miro Weinberger praised the compromise agreement, noting that the city had supported the project through previous legal challenges.
The agreement "appears to be a great step forward for Burlington, removing the last major hurdle in this public-private redevelopment effort that will address so many of the City's critical challenges by creating new jobs, new housing, and new municipal revenues," Weinberger said in a statement.
The east side of the mall, which faces Church Street, will stay open during the first construction phase.