Burlington Announces Mall Renovations

By Isabelle Dietz

Burlington is looking to undergo an approximately 200 million dollar project on its mall, Burlington Town Center.   Mayor Miro Weinberger, Governor Peter Shumlin and the owner of Burlington mall as of December 2013, Don Sinex, revealed construction proposals on Nov 20th. The commencement of a process that will lead to a development plan was introduced at the mall beside the new L.L. Bean store, which opened up this November.
The Burlington Town Center mall is located at 49 Church Street at the center of Burlington. The construction would include three new buildings, around 250 new apartments, a new hotel, office space, and new underground and rooftop parking spaces.
Sinex emphasized the role that community input will play in how the new mall will look.
“What we’re doing today is not announcing a plan to develop this,” Sinex said. “What we’re announcing is a process.”
Governor Shumlin is in favor of the plan.
“This project shows how we can utilize innovative public-private partnerships to continue to strengthen Vermont’s downtowns,” Shumlin said.  “Burlington is already a model for how downtown development can spur job growth, economic opportunity, and positive community engagement.  Today’s announcement is just one more example of how Mayor Weinberger and his team are getting it right for Burlington and Vermont.”
The released ideas look to expand the mall considerably. While the mall currently has 125,000 square feet of retail space, the current plan will expand retail area to 225,000 square feet. The plan will add almost five times as much office space as is currently offered — 150,000 square feet of additional space onto the existing 35,000. The new parking lots would add around 375 spaces. The hotel would add 250 rooms and be able to accommodate 5,000-person events.
”The redevelopment concept for the Burlington Town Center mall represents a big step in our efforts to create the most walkable small city downtown in America,” said Peter Owens, Director of the Burlington Community and Development Office.
Mayor Weinberger claims that the renovation will be a one that fits in with planBTV, Burlington’s improvement plan.
“Don Sinex has stepped forward with a creative, public-private redevelopment concept that implements the planBTV vision of additional downtown housing and jobs, restored pedestrian and bike connectivity, and greater vibrancy on Bank and Cherry streets,” Weinberger said. “I look forward to working with the public and Mr. Sinex in the months and years ahead to review and refine the concept and together make it a reality.”
Sinex is not only looking to redevelop the Burlington Town Center mall; he also wants to help Burlington move forward as a community. Sinex estimated that a redesigned Burlington Town Center Mall would provide around 300 temporary construction jobs in Burlington, and between 1,000 and 1,600 permanent jobs. It would also help enhance downtown transportation with a connection inside the mall between St. Paul Street and Pine Street. Projected economic benefits for the city and Vermont included six million dollars per year in new real estate tax revenue, and $450 million per year in estimated economic activity through the multiplier effect.
“With each step I take in the process of redeveloping the Burlington Town Center to create a dynamic mixed use, transit-oriented project, I include a focus on the needs and desires of the Burlington community,” Sinex said.  “I am counting on the public to offer impactful input and ideas that will help us achieve our goal of turning the mall inside out – of transforming one, often hidden space into a multitude of outward-facing shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, parks, and other open spaces.”
Burlington Town Center mall is now 38 years old, as it was built in 1976. If the City Council considers a resolution in one of its meetings this December authorizing an exchange between the public, Sinex and the Administration, then plans will begin to develop and move forward.
“My vision is to create a mall that offers something for everyone – local community members and out-of-town visitors looking to shop, dine, be entertained – and that brings jobs, revenue, and economic benefit to Burlington and to Vermont,” Sinex said.  “Like the Mayor, I believe that we’ll arrive at the best plan for BTC only by engaging in a transparent, public process that considers a wide range of community needs and ideas.”