April 29, 2016

Many support downtown redevelopment

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Burlington (Apr 25) – Over forty Burlington and State government officials and special interest group leaders gathered outside the Burlington Town Center on Church Street to hold a press conference about the downtown redevelopment project that is in the works.  This project will create more office space, affordable housing, and many opportunities for employment.  Support for this revitalization of downtown is from government officials, local downtown businesses, and regular citizens.

Only one voice has been loud in its disagreement with the project.  “This development will be out of scale with Burlington” says Marc Sherman, owner of Outdoor Gear Exchange.  “Burlington retail is strong but because we’ve maintained the small town feel” says Marc as he believes that urbanizing Burlington will drive tourists away from the town instead of attracting them.

On the other hand, there are over 25 different organizations, non-profits, and businesses in support of the redevelopment with the list still growing.

“Smart growth will lift us all up” said Zandy Wheeler, owner of SkiRack and Patagonia.  He believes that not only will the side-street businesses grow from the redevelopment, all of downtown and Burlington as a whole will too.

Mayor Miro Weinberger speaking about the positive impacts the redevelopment will have for Burlington

Vermont Interfaith Action is an unlikely, but strong supporter of this project as well.  Debbie Ingram, the Executive Director, stated that Vermont Interfaith Action works for social justice and “that happens two ways 1) providing jobs and 2) providing affordable housing, both of which this project will do”.

“It’s been a long time coming” said Dr. John Brumsted, Chief Executive Officer of the UVM Medical Center, another big supporter of this change.  Brumsted believes that the current mall has been hindering Burlington’s economic growth since it was first built.

Tom Torti, President of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, believes that this will help us attract young people and increase economic growth, “Plattsburg, New York isn’t our competition, it’s those other tech cities and this will help us compete.”

Lastly, Mayor Miro Weinberger spoke about how positively people have been speaking of this project and that it will create “a more vibrant, affordable, walkable, bikeable, and sustainable future for Burlington.”

As we move forward with this project, only time will tell if it is truly what is best for Burlington, but that many people in agreement can’t be wrong.

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