Plans For Former Burlington College Land Up For City Council Approval

Dec 3, 2015

The City of Burlington released a draft agreement Thursday to put a housing development on 27 acres of land that Burlington College sold to developer Eric Farrell in an effort to reduce debt.

The sale raised concerns in Burlington, where some residents lobbied to protect the land as one of a shrinking number of large, undeveloped spaces in the city.

The tentative agreement, announced Thursday by Mayor Miro Weinberger’s office, is an attempt to balance those concerns with the city’s ongoing efforts to address a housing "affordability crisis."

A heavily used foot path that crosses the land from North Avenue to the lakefront bike path would be preserved under the plan, part of a 12-acre swath that includes the entire lakefront stretch of the property. The agreement says the City of Burlington and the Vermont Land Trust will together pay $2 million to purchase the land.

The agreement also allows Farrell’s company, BC Community Housing, to build up to 770 residential units on the property.

Of those units, the agreement guarantees the Champlain Housing Trust 160 low-income housing units on the former Burlington College property. A concept rendering of the final development released with the agreement outlines 570 housing units, including 17 town houses for sale and dozens of condos.

The announcement from the mayor’s office says the city council’s Board of Finance is expected to review the agreement December 14 before it goes to the full city council December 21.

The project, as planned, doesn’t conform to all of the city’s zoning regulations, Weinberger’s office said in the announcement. Among them: Instead of two parking spaces per unit, which is required, the planned development includes 1.5 spaces per unit.

If the council approves the development agreement, the development would require changes to the city’s zoning rules and would be subject to land use permitting.