CityPlace Architect Says Mall Project Will Be Redesigned | Off Message

CityPlace Architect Says Mall Project Will Be Redesigned


Mayor Miro Weinberger speaking to reporters Monday night - COURTNEY LAMDIN
  • Courtney Lamdin
  • Mayor Miro Weinberger speaking to reporters Monday night
Burlington officials exited a closed-door executive session about the long-stalled CityPlace mall redevelopment with grim faces and tight lips Monday night.

A consulting architect was a bit chattier, however.

William Fellows of PKSB approached CityPlace consultant Jeff Glassberg and planning director David White in a hallway in City Hall, saying he’d just learned that the roughly $250 million, 14-story mixed-use building would be redesigned.

Within earshot of the press corps, Fellows wondered aloud if the resulting delays could affect either the city’s plans to use tax-increment financing dollars to support the project or the signed lease with the anchor tenant, the University of Vermont Medical Center. He then left City Hall with a cell phone to his ear.

Neither Glassberg nor Mayor Miro Weinberger would divulge what’s next for CityPlace, saying they have to defer to developer Brookfield Asset Management, whose representatives did not attend Monday’s meeting.

"There's lots of people who are waiting for the word on this,” Glassberg said. “It's not our word to give."

Weinberger said it’s "critical” that Brookfield update the public.

“I'm looking forward to sharing considerable additional thoughts with you once Brookfield has explained what is, I think, self-evident — that we're in mid-July and this project's not in construction,” he said.

Glassberg told Seven Days as much in an interview last week. He also pointed out that Brookfield is approaching a December 31 deadline to submit a construction contract, as per the October 2017 development agreement. That agreement can be renegotiated, but as of now, Brookfield isn’t poised to meet that mark, Glassberg said.
If the document isn’t finalized by June 2021, the city will lose out on $22 million in TIF funding for infrastructure improvements, which Fellows alluded to in his hallway conversation.

Brookfield has also rewritten its contract with UVM Medical Center, spokesperson Annie Mackin told Seven Days in an email last week. The original December 2020 move-in was pushed to July 30, 2021, Mackin said.

The city and Brookfield now plan to release a statement about the project status “in concert” sometime later this week, Glassberg said.

It will be the first public update in the three months since Will Voegele, Brookfield’s senior vice president of development, told the council that Brookfield was tabulating construction bids. He said the firm was “absolutely” committed to the project.
Neither Voegele, minority owner Don Sinex nor Fellows responded to interview requests, and three city councilors declined to confirm Fellows’ statements on Monday night.

Asked by a reporter how he’d characterize the impending announcement, Glassberg said: “Change.”

“A change from the status quo,” he continued. “There's no construction under way. Our effort is to get construction going and trying to figure out the shortest path to get there.”

Former city councilor Dave Hartnett didn’t seem convinced. He was one of two councilors who voted last August against letting Sinex obtain a foundation permit without proof of project financing.

As long as Sinex is involved, there will be no progress, Hartnett said, adding he hopes the project is redesigned.

“We gotta do something quickly,” he said.

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