Development

Resolution to Pay Workers Prevailing Wage Pushes Through City Place Settlement

Photo Credit: ©James Buck | Seven Days

 

Last Tuesday night, the Burlington City Council dropped their previous lawsuit and unanimously approved the new development agreement for City Place.  Six years after the plans were first introduced, the project is now scheduled to commence no later than September 2022.  

The vote was previously delayed as it did not guarantee union workers labor for the project.  Earlier this week, Mayor Weinberger negotiated a deal with the developers that promised workers prevailing wage rates that pushed the vote through.  Now that the legal battle is over, the project is set to restart and turn “the pit” into an innovative city center. 

For more details check out the Seven Days Article, “Burlington City Councilors Approve CityPlace Settlement”.

** If you are interested in learning more about the development / housing in Burlington and the surrounding communities please give Steve a call at [802] 846-9575 or email us at Team@LipkinAudette.com

2020 Multi Family Review & 2021 Forecast

The demand for Chittenden County Multi Family remains strong despite the most tumultuous year in any of our lifetimes. The Burlington area rental property market is well-positioned to endure bumps in the road while maintaining a consistent and moderate upward trajectory. A close look at the key metrics offers optimism for both tenants and landlords alike.

The Chittenden County apartment market is experiencing the lowest apartment vacancy rate in the last 6 years according to Allen, Brooks & Minor (December 2020 = 1.1%). Government sponsored rental housing stabilization funding and a decrease in new construction coming on line are key contributing factors to the record-low vacancy rate. Anecdotally, we've also heard that student rental properties reported very few delinquencies even with the challenges that local universities are facing with in-person learning during a pandemic.

The decrease in new apartments was heavily influenced by a six-week shutdown of all non-essential new construction in Spring of 2020 and a limited supply of labor and materials. Growth is projected to rebound in 2021 with Burlington accounting for one-quarter of all new projected units in Chittenden County. New construction at Eric Farrell’s Cambrian Rise is expected to account for the majority of Burlington’s apartment growth in 2021- in the meantime, there is renewed optimism at the long delayed CityPlace Burlington project. The new proposal includes over 400 units of housing- but isn’t expected to contribute to growth figures until phase one is completed in 2023 (hopefully!). Nearly 25% of Chittenden County’s new apartment growth will be within existing buildings like hotels and office buildings that are being redeveloped. In Essex, apartment growth will be concentrated in three separate projects all in the Five Corners neighborhood whereas Winooski is projected to add additional units along the primary gateways, including East Allen and Main Street.

Demand from Multi Family investors fueled an increase in apartment sale prices, which similar to residential sales, was driven in part by historically low interest rates. The average sale price for 2020 was $552,952, up 16.3% from 2019. The average price per bedroom increased by 2.7% and the average price per square foot grew by 7.5%. Meanwhile, the annual rent inflation percentage has trended in the opposite direction from nearly 3% in 2015 to just over 1% in 2020. This data suggests that in 2020, landlords have been more focused on tenant retention and rent loss prevention versus increasing tenant rents to help offset the added operating expenses. Despite the increase in sale prices, Cap Rates remained relatively unchanged in large part due to flat rents and the average operating expense ratio growing from 30% to 33% over the past 6 years. Burlington Multi Family sales in 2020 saw an average sale price of $773,863 and a list to sale ratio of 96.6%. The average cap rate for sales in Burlington in 2020 was 6.77%.

As reported by numerous national publications, Burlington is consistently ranked as one of the top places in the United States to live. The Burlington region is now benefiting from a surge in remote workers migrating from major cities seeking a better quality of life coupled with an emerging hi-tech workforce- most notable at Russ Scully’s redeveloped 143,022 square foot HULA campus on Burlington’s waterfront. Despite the chaos of 2020, the Burlington area Multi Family market fundamentals are solid, and we continue to see strong investor confidence. 

Having helped hundreds of local clients build wealth through real estate investing, the Lipkin Audette Team understands that, as is the case with any investment, a successful investment strategy needs to be designed to fit an individual’s particular set of needs and goals. If you’d like to speak with our team about how to get started or what the current market value of your property / portfolio might be, give us a call anytime at [802] 846-9575 or email Steve@LipkinAudette.com.   

The Impact of COVID-19 on Small Landlords

Starre Julia Vartan has owned her early 1900's Victorian home in Connecticut for over a decade. The house was supposed to be her forever home but a few years after her purchase, Vartan had the opportunity to move across the country with her boyfriend.  Still tied into her mortgage, Vartan was unable to sell the house at a fair price and reluctantly became a landlord 3,000 miles away from her home.

Even though Vartan never intended to be a landlord, she views homeownership and renting to tenants as a privilege.  Like most small landlords, she takes pride in providing affordable housing, and becoming friends with her tenants who are usually teachers, nurses and other essential workers. When the government imposes regulations and increases taxes, small landlords are forced to pass those expenses on to their tenants who, many of the time, are the least likely to be able to afford it; especially during a pandemic!

Click on the link below to read the entire article…

Consider The Small Landlord | Starre Julia Vartan | The Boston Globe

If you are a landlord with additional questions or would like to discuss anything related to investment properties in the greater Burlington area, please don’t hesitate to email us anytime at Team@LipkinAudette.com or call Steve Lipkin at (802) 846-9575.

Burlington CityPlace | Local Partnership Steps Up

(Image Courtesy of Freeman French Freeman)

UPDATE:  It has been six years since developer Don Sinex first introduced his plans for the CityPlace Burlington project in the former site of the Burlington Square Mall.  Having overcome many obstacles along the way, the project hit its most serious roadblock this past summer when business partner and multinational company, Brookfield Asset Management, pulled out of the deal and sold their 50% share of the development back to Sinex.

According to Sinex, Brookfield’s decision to withdraw from the project did not come as a big surprise to either him or the city of Burlington.  In fact, it was during this past January when, in anticipation of the moment, Sinex had initiated a conversation with a trio of local businessmen about taking over the project for if / when Brookfield officially pulled out.

The trio turned out to be a natural fit as they are all well respected local Vermonters with years of experience with construction and development in our area.  Stepping up in place of Brookfield came Dave Farrington (President, Farrington Construction), Al Senecal (Owner, Omega Electric Construction) and Scott Ireland (President, S.D. Ireland).  With all three having previously consulted on the project, their familiarity with the development plans enabled the new local partnership to quickly file zoning permits and release their revised proposal to the city and community.

Taking into account feedback from the local community as well as the side effects that the pandemic has had the downtown business landscape, the new plans no longer include the once-proposed 196-room hotel, additional office space and two 14-story towers.  Instead, the plan calls for an increase in the number of housing units to a total of 426, including 84 that fit the criteria of “affordable housing”.  The two towers remain prominent design elements but are downsized to one 10-story tower and one 9-story tower, with the southern tower to also include a rooftop restaurant and observation deck.

While there remain many more hurdles that need to be jumped before construction can begin again, there is growing optimism that the new CityPlace concept could be the jumpstart that downtown Burlington needs after being hit hard by the global pandemic.  For more details check out the Seven Days article “A New Developer Team Wants a Shot at Building CityPlace Burlington”.

** If you are interested in learning more about the development / housing in Burlington and the surrounding communities please give Steve a call at [802] 846-9575 or email us at Team@LipkinAudette.com

Real Estate as an Investment

Investing in real estate has long been a popular and successful investment strategy and with the record-high volatility currently found in the stock market, more and more people are now considering real estate as a better alternative to traditional stocks and bonds.

In a recent article published by RIS Media, Brian Davis (co-founder of SparkRental.com) highlighted a few of the many benefits that real estate investing offers… 

6 Perks of Rental Properties for Retirement Income | RISMedia.com

While almost every investment opportunity comes with inherent risks, real estate markets don’t typically correlate to the stock market and can provide investors with an opportunity to diversify their investment strategy while at the same time generating positive cash flow and property appreciation.

Having helped hundreds of local clients build wealth through real estate investing, the Lipkin Audette Team understands that, as is the case with any investment, a successful investment strategy needs to be designed to fit an individual’s particular set of needs and goals. If you’d like to speak with our team about how to get started or what the current market value of your property / portfolio might be, give us a call anytime at [802] 846-9575 or email Steve@LipkinAudette.com.   

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) | Policy Reform

Exciting news for Burlington Property owners!

Photo: James Buck | Seven Days

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) have been long been legal in the city Burlington. However, until now, a rigid zoning policy had effectively limited the number of legally permitted and constructed ADUs to just 45 over the last 10+ years. 

On February 18th, 2020, the City Council unanimously adopted the proposed zoning reforms for Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Burlington.  According to the City of Burlington’s website, “The goal of this reform is to encourage the creation of ADUs to support homeowners as they age in place, provide a flexible option to help owners continue to afford their homes and add additional affordable housing options within existing neighborhoods”.

Recommendations for this legislation were provided by the City’s 2018 ADU White Paper as well as input from the Mayor’s 2019 Housing Summits.  The following changes to the ADU ordinance have now gone into effect…

  • Creating an ADU is no longer the primary reason for a project to go to the DRB and the conditional use requirement for creating an ADU is removed.
  • ADUs no longer require a dedicated parking space.
  • The maximum ADU size in a primary home is now 800 square feet or 30% of the gross floor area of the home; whichever is greater.  This change allows smaller single-family homes to create an ADU that is at least 800 square feet, regardless of the previous 30% guideline.
  • If stormwater impacts are addressed, up to 650 square feet of the lot area are exempt from lot coverage limits.  This change addresses the difficulties that homeowners with smaller lots faced with regards to coverage limits.

For more information or to share your input with the City of Burlington, check out the following links…

Accessory Dwelling Units | City of Burlington

ADU Policy Reform | City of Burlington

IMPORTANT NOTE: ADUs may be used as short-term rentals; however, property owners who plan to do so will be required to meet the zoning requirements for “short term rentals”, click HERE for details.  Most notably, short-term rental ADUs are required to provide a parking space and the property’s primary residence must be owner-occupied.

** If you are interested in learning more about how creating an ADU will impact your Burlington property values give Steve a call at [802] 846-9575 or email us at Team@LipkinAudette.com

Burlington CityPlace | Redesigned Proposal

UPDATE: In a presentation delivered to the Burlington City Council at their meeting this past Monday, the developers behind the Downtown Burlington CityPlace project unveiled their latest redesign concept. The redesigned proposal keeps intact the original concept of mixed-use space but reduces the number of stories on each of the two towers from fourteen to ten. The updated concept would also make use of the current remnants of the Burlington Town Center Mall in addition to the building that used to contain Macy's.   

Even with the reduced height, the tower on the Cherry Street side is still expected to contain 280 to 300 apartments, with 20% of the units qualifying as “affordable” as per Burlington’s inclusionary zoning ordinance.  At the other end, a 175-room hotel will occupy the Bank Street side of the property with retail space filling the first floor of each building. Additionally, the new plans also call for an "adequate" number of parking spaces be located both in between and below the two tower structures (Seven Days, CityPlace Burlington Developers Unveil Scaled-Down Proposal, 2019).

Image Courtesy of the City of Burlington

 

Mayor Miro Weinberger addressed the new plan at the Burlington City Council meeting on Monday saying, “What you've laid out tonight represents the potential of achieving all the major goals the city laid out as we sat down to this process years ago,” listing housing and jobs among the benefits. “This represents a step in the right direction toward fixing a part of the downtown that has long been problematic, but we certainly [have] a long way to go” (City of Burlington, Press Releases, 2019).

For more information on this topic or other stories that impact Burlington, the surrounding communities and its residents; give us a call at [802] 846-8800 or email us at info@LipkinAudette.com.

 

 

CityPlace Burlington Construction to Restart in May

Photo by Alexandre Silberman/VTDigger

UPDATE:  The developer behind the CityPlace Burlington project now says they are back on track thanks to a proposed financing agreement with a new lender.  According to the latest update from majority partner Brookfield Asset Management, construction is set to begin again around May 6th, with an initial occupancy timeline of March-May, 2021.

Elected officials in Burlington have responded with a mixed reaction to this new development (pun intended), but are encouraged by the naming of a specific date that construction will begin once again. Developer Don Sinex indicated in an email that once construction begins again this coming May, he fully expects that “the project will run smoothly to a full completion.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE ON VTDIGGER.COM HERE

Once completed, CityPlace Burlington will feature a mix of retail, commercial and residential offerings in the space that used to be occupied by the downtown Burlington Town Center. What is still unclear, however, is what kind of housing will be included in the $220 million project.   

Let’s open up discussion below about what kind of housing you’d like to see in the new CityPlace development.  Be specific in terms of details like square footage, rental vs. purchase, monthly rent, sale price, HOA dues, amenities, etc…

Funding of UVM Multi-Purpose Athletic Complex

Photo: UVM Athletics

The UVM Board of Trustees approved a unanimous resolution in October regarding how the proposed Multipurpose athletic facility will be funded. The payment strategies mentioned by the proposal include gifts, bonds, credit, and student fees. UVM is reported as having secured $21.8M from donors so far with a goal of $30M by Feb 1.

The project itself includes construction of a new basketball arena, expanded fitness center, expanded health and wellness spaces, renovations to Gutterson arena, and complex-wide renovations. Read the full article in the Vermont Cynic HERE!

-Alec, LipVT

Hardware Store Coming Soon Across from City Hall Park

 

Photo from www.sevendaysvt.com

Gordon Winters, owner of five other existing Ace Hardware stores in Vermont and New York, is in the process of opening another Ace Hardware on College Street in Burlington. The location, directly across from City Hall Park, abuts a Northfield Savings Bank branch. Winters and others say the store is filling a void left by the closing of Hagar Hardware on Church Street in the 90’s. The store would stock typical hardware store products in addition to specialty items targeting “college students, specialty plumbing for the city’s older buildings, and a marine section for boaters.” A hardware store is a step towards having more downtown retailers that serve residents’ daily needs in addition to the many restaurants and boutique stores. In this Seven Days article, the author cites Bibens Ace in the New North End as the next closest hardware store at 3 miles away from downtown. In the comments section, folks have mentioned that Curtis Lumber, while closer, is a building supply store, catering especially towards contractors in their stock and hours. Read the full article from Seven Days HERE!