Informational

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

North Hero Neighbors Clash Over Private Airstrip

We all know the line, “good fences make good neighbors,” but what if your neighbors are flying over the fence as they take-off and land their aircraft on a private runway… on their side of the fence? In North Hero, neighbors are clashing over the construction and permitting of a half-built grass runway to be used by small, recreational aircraft. The pilots and their attorney have been working with local and state officials to form a proposal that lays out how many flights a day the pilots can operate from the airstrip, how much fuel should be kept on site, a provision to allow emergency use of the runway in the event of a crisis, and other conditions that are aimed to ensure the pilots remain considerate of their neighbors when using the site.

However, as with many of the homes situated on Lake Champlain, residents (seasonal and year-round alike) invest in the area for its natural beauty and serenity. Homeowners are understandably concerned with how the added noise and presence of the airstrip will affect their own property value – an issue Chittenden County residents are familiar with given the context of the heated battle over the incoming F-35 jets at Burlington International Airport in South Burlington.

The current status is that the runway owners have until February 7 to complete their application with the Vermont Transportation Board. North Hero Select Board Chair Eileen Mitchell is quoted to have written that the town “has no zoning bylaws or ordinances prohibiting” the landing area.        Read the full article in Seven Days HERE!

 

-Alec Murphy, 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!

Greater Burlington YMCA: Bigger, Better, Breaking Ground on College Street

 

Photo courtesy of Greater Burlington YMCA

With a proposed completion date of early 2020, construction has begun on the new building for the Greater Burlington YMCA. If you’re headed up College Street, check out the newest big hole in the ground between South Union St. and Hungerford Terrace. S.D. Ireland has been hard at work on the foundation of this $15M project. The building will house two pools, a gym, running/walking track, fitness studios, workout space, and expanded drop-in child care space. The footprint of the building will eclipse that of the old Ethan Allen Club which has been demolished to make space for the new Y. The Y states that membership rates will go up, but expected increases in membership numbers will help keep these price increases moderate. 

Photo courtesy of Greater Burlington YMCA

 

Read the full article from the Burlington Free Press HERE!

 

Burlington Prices Rise while Inventory Slumps

“It’s just super stressful that there’s not anything out there to look at. If you say, ‘I want to be in this neighborhood’, then you might wait six months.” Nic Anderson explained to The Nest about the current Real Estate market in Chittenden County. Homes for sale have dropped more than 24% country wide in the last year. In Burlington, the number of single family homes for sale remains low but not far from last year with 41 single-family homes available in April compared to 43 that were available in April of 2016.  While inventory is low in Burlington, the average sale prices are rising high, 37% higher than last year to be exact. The median price was also up 35% from last year. Steve Lipkin stated, “Disparity between high demand and low supply is unusually severe right now, particularly for home buyers looking to spend $200,000-$400,000. “Under half a million [dollars] is as tight as I’ve seen it in the past 20 years.” The recession made people warier of taking on mortgages they couldn’t afford which has caused less buyers to be looking at huge houses with price tags over $1 million. For the luxury market, there are more listings than buyers and the homes that are on market are sitting for longer. Steve points out “buyers who are willing to drive a litter farther from Burlington can often find decent deals in Franklin County and can stay close to interstate 89 for commuting.” The average sale prices in Franklin County decreased almost 5% in the last year.  “You’ve got to think outside of the box in this market, if you’ve got a buyer.” Steve said, which is exactly what he did for his buyers Nic and Amy Anderson who were having trouble finding a home that suited their needs within their price range. There are about 2,000 new homes being proposed and built but most are to be rental properties not condos for sale. The new apartments will help keep renting affordable in the Queen City and hopefully can ease up the market for single family homes but it won’t be in the next year. If you’re hoping to move, you need a Realtor like Steve Lipkin, to think outside the box to get you into your dream home. As always, if you’re wondering about the current market or thinking about buying or selling, visit us at www.lipvt.com

The Nest- Full Article 

The Battle of Great Hosmer Pond

Great Hosmer Pond has been a significant part of the Craftsbury, VT community since the mid 40’s when lakefront cabin development began. This serene hideaway allowed residents to enjoy the lake all summer on their boats as well as along the shoreline.   

Fast forward to 1976 when Russell Spring founded the Craftsbury Outdoor Center – primarily focused on sculling (a.k.a. rowing). The outdoor center thrives simply due to the fact that Great Hosmer Pond is “the greatest place on Earth to scull, end of story” according to managing director Troy Howell.

However, as of late, there’s been some resistance to the COC. Motorboats and scullers simply cannot coexist on a lake as narrow as Hosmer. There isn’t enough room. The lake is only 160 feet wide at its broadest part, which would typically mean motor boats were prohibited on the body of water. However, since the lakefront properties date back to the 40’s and 50’s the use of motorboats has been grandfathered in.

Managing director Troy Howell again explains, “If there are 40 to 50 scullers on the lake, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to water-ski.” “By the same token, if there are even three motorboats on the lake functioning at high speeds, it’s virtually impossible to scull.”

The conflict in Craftsbury is at a breaking point, and if a solution isn’t found soon it might boil over.

Shared access to public facilities hasn’t been particularly troublesome in Vermont up until this point due to our low population density. However, as more and more patrons begin to summer in Vermont and use our lakes it’s a problem we could see arise more frequently.   

For any of your real estate questions or concerns contact Steve Lipkin and the LipVT team at Steve@LipVT.com or 802-846-9575.

Do You Own Your Land?

Photo: Farmland in Thetford, Vermont. One of the many VT towns effected by land leases. 

Donna and Travis Jocelyn woke to a rude awakening when a title search on their property in the closing stages of their transaction revealed an enormous obstacle; The City of Burlington owned the land they had called their own for years. The couple had been looking to downsize from their New North End residence to a small condo to mitigate property taxes. After much discouragement in their selling process, finding a buyer was a blast of new hope – until the buyer’s attorney conducted a title search to make sure there weren’t any unpaid taxes on the property. A document dating back to the 1700’s created by the governors of New York and New Hampshire, still under British sovereignty, revealed the land was in fact owned by the City of Burlington for potential land leases for fundraising purposes. Provisions in these leases would allow settlers to occupy the land for “as long as grass grows and water runs,” allowing occupants to settle on, but never sell the land. Eventually the individual towns became responsible for these land leases, and over time they stopped collecting rent. The City’s claim on these deeds hasn’t been a problem until now as analysis of record is becoming much stricter. Burlington, just in time for the sale, granted a quitclaim deed releasing all claim to the property and transferring it to the Jocelyns. It’s expected that hundreds, if not thousands of Burlington residents will be effected by the land leases in the coming years. Officials are discussing a possible solution to the problem – a statewide policy that terminates the city’s three century old claim to the land. Until then, purchasing title insurance as soon as possible after the acquisition of a property will help avoid this obstacle for homeowners and investors alike. Contact Steve Lipkin and the LipVT team for more info!  

Sinex and Burlington - A $200 million Disagreement

Photo: A 3d model of how the town center will look post development.

The clock is ticking for Burlington Town Center owner, Don Sinex. For some time now, Sinex has been working to redevelop the struggling downtown Burlington Mall. Sinex is seeking a zoning change to allow for a height increase which Sinex says is necessary to increase density to make the $200 million development viable. Reaction is still mixed among Burlington residents with strong opinions on both sides. Opponents to the development site concern that a zoning change allowing any part of the complex to rise to 14 stories will create a dangerous precedent and irrevocably change the city skyline. Those in favor say the change is necessary to improve the city’s chronic housing shortage and will help create jobs. Stay tuned to see if the approximately 1,000,000 new sq ft of development will be taking place, 246,000 of which are dedicated to retail, 340,000 to office, 307,000 to residential and 355,000 to a new parking garage. 

To read the full article:

 

http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/2016/05/25/burlington-town-center-owner-pushes-back-opposition/84920172/ 

 

 

 

 

Queen City landlords get an energy boost!

An interesting business opportunity has slid on to the plate of Burlington multifamily property owners.

Photo: Building performance specialist Jeremy King inspects a Burlington multifamily property for heat fluctuation using an infrared camera.

There's been a long time tug-of-war between Burlington landlords and tenants. Why would a Burlington landlord fret over a tenant's high heating bill? On the contrary, why would a tenant give thought to maximizing a landlord's long-term investment in their property?

The simple answer: neither does. And that's exactly why numerous Burlington multifamily properties have been neglected as far as improvements go in the past years. 

Energy Champ, a program developed by Vermont Gas Systems and Burlington Electric Department, is a possible solution to the predicament. The program is split into two stages. Stage one for a landlord is having energy auditors conduct a walkthrough of the entire building. The auditors use tools such as infrared cameras to determine how well the structure retains heat, and calculate the investment a landlord would need to make to achieve total heat efficiency. Stage two of the program for the landlord is making the improvements suggested by the auditors.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, Vermont Gas Systems and the Burlington Electric Department will cover up to 75% of the total improvement cost the landlords incurr. 

This has created an awesome opportunity for Queen City landlords. Not only can they do their part in making our planet energy efficient, but they can keep tenants in their properties longer as tenants tend to stay in an apartment longer the lower the heating bill is. They also have a darn good chance at increasing the resale value of their property more so than what they invested in Energy Champ. 

To read the full article: https://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/life/green-mountain/2016/02/21/landlords-burlington-leap-energy-upgrades/80397658/