Workers removing a crane at the CityPlace Burlington site
Workers finally got busy at the CityPlace Burlington construction site on Wednesday — but only to remove a large crane that has been parked in the downtown crater for nearly a year.
One of the workers, who declined to give his name, said the crane was needed at a different site.
But John Franco, an attorney representing opponents of the redevelopment, called the explanation “bullshit.” In reality, he said, the crews were disassembling a "Potemkin village" — a term for a deceptive façade — meant to convince locals that work was underway on the controversial project.
Jeff Glassberg, a consultant working for the city as a liaison with project owners Brookfield Asset Management, said Monday that the public should expect an update this week. The announcement would likely involve “change,” he said.
The crane removal was certainly something different. Little has happened at the site of the old Burlington Town Center mall, much of which was demolished more than a year ago. Steel beams were dropped off last November, but nothing has been done with them. The SD Ireland employee at the site on Wednesday said the crane would have been used to move beams into place as part of constructing the foundation.
Instead, workers disassembled the large crane boom and guided it onto a waiting flatbed trailer hauled by a truck. A second truck was on its way, the worker said, and the rest of the crane would be removed on a lowboy trailer.
SD Ireland did not immediately return a message left at its Williston headquarters.
It’s unclear when work might commence. Any changes to the project would likely need additional review by city planners, a process that could set builders back even further and perhaps imperil access to millions in tax-increment financing funds for streetscape improvements.
“What a catastrophe,” said Franco, whose clients have a lawsuit pending against the project developers.
He said Monday’s meeting and officials’ failure to disclose any updates on the project “couldn’t have been worse public relations for the city.”
Franco was intrigued by the possibility that the redevelopment plans could change. “My clients’ main beef with this project is the size of it,” he said. “If they want to downsize, we’re fine with that.”