Construction brings changes to the corner of Shelburne Road and Fayette Drive, where the Larkin Terrace Hotel once stood.

Development Transforms City Landscape: What’s Going Up in the City

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Thursday May 17, 2018

Spring is here, but there is more than just the changing of the seasons taking place in South Burlington. The city’s ever-evolving landscape has been a longtime reality for the city’s 19,000 residents, as well as for those who come here to work, play, dine and shop. And with a number of development projects slated to begin, or in the planning process, the city will continue to morph and change. Large stands of trees have been cleared recently to make way for some of the approved developments on sites such as Market Street, between Old Farm Road and Kennedy Drive for the O’Brien projects, and in South Village. Here is just a brief look at what’s currently going on and going up in the city.

Central District, City Center

City Center has been a main player in South Burlington’s Comprehensive Plan document as far back as 1985, and the changing landscape is now becoming the reality of decades of planning and discussion, According to the city, the vision for this area is to “effectively blend existing neighborhoods, commercial areas, natural areas, undeveloped properties, and undeveloped lands into the true downtown of South Burlington.” Connectivity, as well as a mix of housing, retail, and employment is to be a core focus in establishing this region’s identity. The Central District area includes both sides of Dorset Street, Williston Road, San Remo Drive, and along the existing and planned phases of Market Street and Garden Street. This is the only district where Form Based Code is currently enforced.

The first major residential development in City Center—Allard Square, a Cathedral Square Senior Community—broke ground on Market Street in November 2017. Spearheaded by Cathedral Square Corporation and Snyder Braverman Development Company, the building will provide 39 one and two-bedroom apartments at both affordable and market rate rents. Occupancy is slated for November 2018. The building was named after Doris Allard, the longest-tenured resident of Cathedral Square.

The city also recently received an application for the next large building in the City Center Form Based Code District on Market Street. Champlain Housing Trust is building in collaboration with Snyder Braverman Development Company at the corner of Market and Garden Street. In the T-4 District, they are proposing 60 dwelling units in a four story building with underground parking, with a variety of unit sizes including a couple of four-bedroom units.

Also in the plans for development on Market Street, a bond proposal for a new City Center/Library/Senior Center will be on the November 2018 ballot for voter consideration. The proposed site is located on over a half acre of land, east of Allard Square and south of the Rick Marcotte Central School. The city has asked the school district to transfer .7 acres of school property to provide access and parking for this project. Alternate plans for a taller building design with a smaller footprint would be considered if necessary. The goal for construction completion is April 2020 if the bond is approved by voters.

The street where all this is taking place is being revitalized, as well. Voters have already approved reconstruction of Market Street, which—in addition to City Center Park (Dumont parcel) and associated costs—was the topic of the first public vote on City Center Tax Increment Financing District. Market Street reconstruction takes place this spring with the intention of rebuilding the road from Dorset Street to Hinesburg Road and redefining itself as a downtown main street. As a main road, it will be multi-modal and accommodate pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicular use. Portions of the roadway may be closed throughout the summer.

Furthermore, The Development Review Board (DRB) has reviewed and approved wetland impacts related to City Center. The EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the state have already approved the impacts from Class II wetlands, Class II wetland buffers, and Class III wetlands. The DRB only needed to review Class III wetland buffers.

Not in City Center’s core but within the Form Based Code area, a three-part building in the Quarry Hill development, adjacent to the interstate ramp, was approved. In total, it will consist of 80 dwelling units, of which 15 percent will be considered for affordable housing. There will also be about 6,000-8,000 sq. ft. of commercial use. Two sections will be four stories high, and one section will be a single story.

Southeast Quadrant

The Southeast Quadrant (SEQ) consists of 3,900 acres, or 37 percent of the city’s land area. It is considered the focus of much of the city’s future land use planning and land conservation efforts. The SEQ is bound by Spear Street to the west, Interstate 89 to the north, the Muddy Brook to the east, and the Shelburne town line to the south.

The South Village community along Spear Street will see future development. South Village Community currently consists of single-family homes, townhomes, and condominiums surrounded by 150 acres of protected common land (woodlands, wetlands, and meadows), and is described as a conservation community. It also has recreation space and a 12-acre organic farm. The DRB reviewed and approved Phase IIIB in the fall to include 60 units (22 single-family, four 2-family dwellings, two 3-unit multi-family dwellings, and two 12-unit multi-family dwellings). This is part of a larger 334-unit Master Plan which was approved in 2005.

Further south between Dorset Street and Hinesburg Road, plans for Phase II of the Cider Mill neighborhood (also known as Cider Mill II) are in the works. The project proposes 142 units (66 single family lots, 46 units in two 2-family dwellings, and 30 units in three 3-unit multi-family dwellings); the unit count has been amended a few times since the master plan was approved in 2007. The board voted to invoke technical review for a traffic study after long discussion of whether or not to extend Cider Mill Road to Sommerfield Avenue. There are resident petitions both in favor and in opposition of the extension. Those opposed say it will disrupt a wildlife corridor and promote speeding; the developer currently does not plan to extend it. Many in favor say that before they invested in the neighborhood the plan was for the road to be extended; they are now concerned about increased traffic on Winesap Road if it is not extended.

Also in the SEQ: the DRB approved to subdivide a 47.99 acre parcel developed with the golf course into 11 lots ranging in size from .37 acres to 45.03 acres. This is based on the Supreme Court decision and land swap with JAM Golf. The DRB originally denied portions of an amended master plan for the 400-acre-plus build out—which included residential lots and the Vermont National County Club golf course along Dorset Street in 2001—due to concerns about the wildlife corridor. The Supreme Court determined the city regulations were not sufficiently clear. This plan includes a heavy landscaping requirement. DRB had limited review.

Southwest Quadrant 

Shelburne Road and Fayette Road

As pictured in the photo on page 1, big changes are underway on Route 7; it is impossible to miss the construction on the corner of Shelburne Road and Fayette, near the entrance for the Palace 9 Theatre. Developer John Larkin razed the 54-unit hotel, Larkin Terrace, and is in the process of constructing a new building with 60 residential units and 20,250 sq. ft. of commercial space. Designed to transform the Shelburne Road streetscape, the nearly 84,000 sq. ft. building is intended to revitalize the area with attractive features including a prominent tower along with restaurant and retail space.

Just down Fayette Road, Larkin has plans for micro-apartments, specifically, a four-story building across the street from the Palace 9 Cinemas and behind Zen Gardens Restaurant. Currently, it is a parking lot, but it will eventually flourish into small apartments with common spaces ideal for those in the market for a starter dwelling unit.

Northeast Quadrant

The Northeast Quadrant includes the Burlington International Airport and areas north of I-89.

One of the most transformative projects in the city is underway on the O’Brien Brothers. After growing up in the farming business on the Old Farm Road property, brothers Leo Jr. and Daniel O’Brien shifted their focus to real estate with the O’Brien Brothers Agency and have been operating for six decades. The Development Review Board has approved a master plan to develop nearly 40 acres with a maximum of 458 housing units, 45,000 square feet of office space, a park and other pedestrian amenities between Kennedy Drive, Kimball Avenue, and Old Farm Road — the very land many O’Brien family members grew up on. Phase I has been approved for 64 single family dwellings, 27 two-family dwellings, and 14 lots.

The entrance to the Burlington International Airport is the location for a proposed 5-story, 105-room on-site airport hotel. The hotel plans include a restaurant, ground-level patio, lounge area, fitness center, and an observation deck on the fifth floor as a prime location to watch the aircraft come and go.

As the seasons change, spring, summer and fall construction will change the landscape of South Burlington.

Stay in-the-know by visiting or attending planning commission meetings (every second and fourth Tuesday) or DRB meetings (every first and third Tuesday) at City Hall at 7 p.m. DRB meetings are recorded on CCTV and both planning commission and DRB minutes are recorded.


SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent