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Burlington's Residential Zoning Overhaul

 

At the last city council meeting Burlington city officials proposed transformative zoning changes. The goal is to overhaul the long-standing residential zoning by allowing for denser housing development. Mayor Miro Weinberger sees it as a significant action to address the housing crisis, urging prompt action before the election of a new mayor and city councilors.

 

For more information on this story check out the article “With citywide rezoning plan, Burlington considers how to grow” on the VT Digger website. The Lipkin Audette Team has helped thousands of clients buy, sell, and invest in Northwest Vermont real estate. As the top selling Team in Vermont, our goal is to provide you with deep local insight, up-to-the-minute information, and all of the relevant resources necessary to make your purchase or sale an informed, profitable and rewarding experience.

Burlington and Bozeman From Outdoor Havens to Unlikely Tech Hotspots

Burlington and Bozeman, both known for outdoor activities and a culture of entrepreneurship, have evolved into thriving tech hubs with well-respected universities serving as talent pipelines. These cities, though smaller than tech giants like Austin and San Jose, have attracted both talent and venture capital, leading to the growth of startups. Despite their economic success, rising housing costs pose challenges to maintaining their unique appeal. The article highlights the nuanced nature of these economies and the importance of quality of life, with examples like Beta Technologies in Burlington embodying local values and resisting relocation offers for its electric aviation venture.

For more information on this story check out the article “The Great Tech Migration”  on the Huge Inc website. The Lipkin Audette Team has helped thousands of clients buy, sell, and invest in Northwest Vermont real estate. As the top selling Team in Vermont, our goal is to provide you with deep local insight, up-to-the-minute information, and all of the relevant resources necessary to make your purchase or sale an informed, profitable and rewarding experience.

Burlington Explores Redevelopment of Gateway Block with Local Developers

The City of Burlington is considering a partnership with local developers Eric Farrell and Joe Larkin to revitalize the Gateway Block, a prime downtown 3.81-acre area that includes the dilapidated Memorial Auditorium and other landmarks. The developers' vision, as described in a letter of intent, includes building 200 or more housing units, a 100-room hotel with underground parking, and a vibrant pedestrian streetscape. Some city councilors raised concerns about the hotel proposal and emphasized the importance of public feedback in the planning process. The fate of Memorial Auditorium is uncertain, and discussions with developers will determine the feasibility of redeveloping the block, with a formal agreement possible as early as late March.

For more information on this story check out the article “Burlington Takes Initial Steps to Redevelop Memorial Auditorium and Surrounding Properties” on the Seven Days Vermont website. The Lipkin Audette Team has helped thousands of clients buy, sell, and invest in Northwest Vermont real estate. As the top selling Team in Vermont, our goal is to provide you with deep local insight, up-to-the-minute information, and relevant resources necessary to make your purchase or sale an informed, profitable and rewarding experience.

Federal Government Takes Notes of Vermont's Rental Market

Rising rental prices in Vermont have prompted the federal government to consider providing more assistance to housing voucher recipients throughout Vermont, particularly in the Burlington metro area, where two-bedroom apartment rents increased by 16.84% over the past year. The increase in "fair market" rent rates, calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, exceeded 10% for all Vermont counties in the last federal fiscal year. This recognition of higher rental costs should help more Vermont renters find suitable housing in the very competitive rental market.

For more information on this story check out the article “Housing Vouchers Will Go Further as Federal Government Takes Note of Vermont’s Costly Rental Market” on the VTdigger.org website. 

The Lipkin Audette Team has helped thousands of clients buy, sell, and invest in Northwest Vermont real estate. As the top selling Team in Vermont, our goal is to provide you with deep local insight, up-to-the-minute information, and relevant resources necessary to make your purchase or sale an informed, profitable and rewarding experience.

"10% in Vermont" Program to Loan $55M for Housing Development

a recently built neighborhood with community play structure for kids

At a press conference last week, Vermont Treasurer Mike Pieciak announced a new $55 million initiative designed to provide low-interest loans to support investments in housing.  Directly addressing the longstanding housing crisis our state is faced with, Pieciak highlighted the importance of creating housing to support the healthy growth of Vermont businesses and communities.

The majority of the funds, $50 Million in total, will be administered by the VHFA (Vermont Housing Finance Agency) to support affordable housing, economic / workforce housing, underserved communities, flood resilience, and manufactured home communities.  The loans are estimated to come with attractive interest rates in the 3-4% range, well below the rates developers are up against using more traditional financing options.

The $55M in cash comes as part of the “10% in Vermont” investment program, which was first established by lawmakers back in 2014.  Simply put, the program gives authority to the Treasurer’s office to use up to 10% of the state’s daily cash on hand to be used for “projects designed to grow the economy”.  Thanks in part to an influx of federal Covid-19 dollars, the state currently is sitting on over $2.1 Billion in cash meaning the program is taking up just over ¼ of the 10% threshold.

For more information on this story check out the article “Treasurer announces more than $55 million in low-interest loans to support housing development” on the VTdigger.org website. Since 1985, the Lipkin Audette Team has helped thousands of clients buy, sell, and invest in Northwest Vermont real estate. As the top selling Team in Vermont, our goal is to provide you with deep local insight, up-to-the-minute information, and relevant resources necessary to make your purchase or sale an informed, profitable and rewarding experience.

Middle Housing: The Missing Link?

an image of a duplex in Burlington Vermont

As the state of Vermont continues to look for solutions to address its longstanding housing crisis, the recent elimination of single-family zoning (S.100 Housing Bill – learn more) is seen by many as a step in the right direction.  Similar legislation has recently been passed in states such as Maine, Oregon, and California with others likely soon to follow along.

Although Vermont’s housing issues are unique and very different than other areas throughout the country, one place where both our local and national problems overlap is with regards to new construction building trends and more specifically, the lack of “middle housing” starts as compared to those of single family and large multi family complexes with 20+ units. 

In a recent article posted on Bloomberg.com, author Ilena Peng exposes the decline of small multi-family “middle housing” options and how those types of buildings can, and should, be part of the overall housing solution.  Single family zoning, as per this article, experienced a proliferation following World War II; during a time in our nation’s history when racial segregation and exclusion sometimes leaked into public policy and municipal regulation.

However, while zoning reform has recently gained a lot of positive momentum on the national level, another part of the middle housing decline can be attributed to economic factors that are not as easy to correct.  Lack of builders/developers, increased material costs, supply chain disruption and record-high interest rates have all contributed to low supply and high demand; so most home builders continue to produce inventory that yields the highest profit margins, such as single family homes and large apartment buildings with 20+ units.

For more information and statistics check out the full article “Small Multifamily Homes Were Disappearing. Now States are Scrambling to Revive Them” on Bloomberg.com.  Since 1985, our Team has helped thousands of clients buy, sell, and invest in Northwest Vermont real estate. As the top selling Team in Vermont, our goal is to provide you with deep local insight, up-to-the-minute information, and relevant resources necessary to make your purchase or sale an informed, profitable and rewarding experience.

UVM to Build Housing for Undergraduate Students

buildings located at the university of Vermont

With Burlington’s rental vacancy rate still far below the national average, the University of Vermont is taking matters into their own hands to increase options for its undergraduate students.  The solution? A $100 million apartment complex located next to the DoubleTree hotel off exit 14 of Interstate 89. 

Officially named “Catamount Woods”, the complex is estimated to house 540 students and will be built on land already owned by the university.  Through a partnership with a private developer, the university is expected to chip in approximately 25% of the total construction costs and are hoping that students will be moving in as early as fall of 2025.

For more information on this story check out the article "UVM adding new housing for undergrads on campus" on the WCAX website.  Since 1985, our Team has helped thousands of clients buy, sell and invest in Northwest Vermont real estate. As the top selling Team in Burlington, our goal is to provide you with deep local insight, up-to-the-minute information, and relevant resources necessary to make your purchase or sale an informed, profitable and rewarding experience.

Burlington's South End Zoning Change Unanimously Approved

an aerial photo of the Hula Campus in Burlington's South End Innovation District

Over a year-and-a-half after Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger first proposed the idea, the Burlington City Council has unanimously approved a major zoning change to the “South End Innovation District”.  Comprised of a total of 14 pieces of land located on the west side of Pine Street, most parcels remain vacant with the most notable exception being the cutting-edge tech-hub Hula Campus on Lakeside Avenue.

The primary goal of this change is to allow for the development of hundreds of dwelling units in a section of the city that was once designated for light manufacturing and industrial use. In this newly defined zoning district, buildings are required to be close to the street while green space requirements aim to protect the area from becoming all paved over as parking lots.  Additionally, new building height maximums were established to take into account the impact that new development will have on the existing views in and around Calahan Park.

Hula founder Russ Scully owns a six-acre parking lot that, with the new change in place, now hopes to turn the parcel into walkable and affordable workforce housing that the city currently lacks.  As a way to ensure that affordable dwelling units would actually be built, the Council also included a provision that precludes developers from using a loophole in the City’s Inclusionary Zoning ordinance known as the “payment-in-lieu” option.

Additional details of the new legislation include the ability for universities to build dormitories but prevents the construction of hotels.  While some, including Mayor Weinberger, argued that hotels would nicely complement the area’s housing growth, councilors ultimately decided to reject the motion by a vote of 7-5 to focus on the communities current housing challenges.

For more information on this story check out the article “Burlington Council Approves Change to Allow Housing in South End District” on the Seven Days website. Since 1985, we’ve helped thousands of clients buy, sell and invest in Northwest Vermont real estate.  As the top selling real estate Team in Burlington, our goal is to provide you with deep local insight, up-to-the-minute information, and relevant resources necessary to make your purchase or sale an informed and rewarding experience.   

Vermont's "HOME" Bill Signed into Law

a photo of the State House in Montpelier Vermont

This past Monday, June 6th, Governor Phil Scott officially signed the wide-ranging housing bill, S.100, better known as HOME.  An acronym for “Housing Opportunities Made for Everyone”, the law had major bipartisan support with the final vote in the House of Representatives coming in at 135 in support versus only 11 who opposed.

Included in the bill are several modifications to Act 250. However, the majority of the more aggressive reform measures were left off the final bill in exchange for smaller, and temporary reforms instead.  In one of most impactful changes that the bill creates, the long-standing “10-5-5” rule for Act 250 involvement in new residential development was modified to increase the maximum number of units to 25 in state-designated downtowns and growth areas.  Nonetheless, this change to Act 250 is temporary with a scheduled sunsetting in 2026.

Among the biggest, and most attention-grabbing, components of the new law is the removal of single-family zoning statewide.  Applying to anywhere year-round residential development is allowed, all property owners will be allowed to create an additional unit in their home without approval from the local municipal offices.  Furthermore, all cities and towns would be required to allow 3 or 4 unit buildings if the area is served by municipal water and sewer.

As signed by the Governor, the bill will take effect on July 1st, 2023 with a couple of the more granular municipal reforms, such as parking requirements, delayed until the end of 2024.

Click the link to read the full article “Phil Scott signs ‘HOME’ bill, legalizing duplexes statewide and tweaking Act 250” on VTDigger.com.  Since 1985, we’ve helped thousands of clients buy and sell real estate in Northwest Vermont.  As the top-selling real estate Team in Burlington, our goal is to provide you with the local insight, information, and resources necessary to make your purchase and/or sale an informed and enjoyable experience.      

Burlington City Council Modifies Inclusionary Zoning

An aerial photo of downtown Burlington and Lake Champlain

Since 1990, the City of Burlington has implemented an inclusionary zoning (IZ) program designed to require developers to include a set percentage of affordable units in new market-rate housing developments of 5 or more homes. 

In its original form, the law required developers to produce inclusionary units at the same bedroom ratio as the market-rate units located in the same project.  The intention of this piece of policy was to ensure that developers were producing inclusionary units with similar bedroom numbers as the market-rate options in a particular project. 

It wasn’t until 2015 that the City Council decided to revisit the ordinance as part of a Housing Action Plan that contained proposals for “building a more affordable, inclusive, livable, walkable, sustainable and vibrant community.”  As part of the findings and suggestions from this study, three ideas were presented to the council, all with varying levels of effort and reward.

With a lack of affordable housing options exacerbated by the unprecedented increase in post-covid buyer demand, the Burlington City Council finally took action on the aforementioned recommendations and recently amended the IZ requirements to allow for developers to better meet the new demands for affordable housing within Burlington city limits.

For more information check out the article “Inclusionary zoning changes coming to Burlington” on WCAX.com or read the full ordinance HERE

Since 1985, we’ve helped thousands of clients buy and sell real estate in Northwest Vermont.  As the top-selling real estate Team in Burlington, our goal is to provide you with the local insight, information, and resources necessary to make your purchase and/or sale an informed and enjoyable experience.  Contact us today to get started!     

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