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CityPlace Burlington developers scale back housing units to add hotel rooms

A building that's under construction.
Liam Elder-Connors
Vermont Public
The south building of the CityPlace Burlington project. The developers announced on Thursday that they were scaling back the amount of housing units in the project and adding two hotels.

Developers are scaling back the amount of housing in the CityPlace Burlington project in order to add two hotels, which they say is needed to shore up financing for the $200 million development.

The project, located in the heart of Vermont’s largest city, was set to bring at least 427 new apartments online, including more than 80 permanently affordable units. The new plan would reduce the total number of apartments to a minimum of 350, with at least 70 affordable units. The first iteration of CityPlace, proposed nearly eight years ago, had 272 apartments.

“Between the construction costs and interest rates, this is an economic move that we had to do if we wanted this project to keep going on. If we didn't bring in this hotel component, there’d be zero units.”
Dave Farrington, CityPlace developer

Now, the development will include two hotels — one in each of the two buildings that will make up the CityPlace Project. The hotels will be operated by Giri Group, a Quincy, Massachusetts-based development company that is now a minority partner in the CityPlace project. There will be a maximum of 350 rooms between both hotels, according to a press release.

“Between the construction costs and interest rates, this is an economic move that we had to do if we wanted this project to keep going on,” said Dave Farrington, one of the CityPlace developers, during a press conference on Thursday. “If we didn't bring in this hotel component, there’d be zero units.”

More from Vermont Public: CityPlace Burlington construction resumes after years of delay

The reduction in apartments in the CityPlace project comes amid an acute housing crisis in Vermont. The rental vacancy rate in Chittenden County is 1% and homelessness in the Queen City has skyrocketed. There were more than 250 people living outside in the Burlington area in early January, according to a memo from the city.

The CityPlace developers will also be taking on the construction of the project’s affordable units after parting ways with Champlain Housing Trust, according to a city press release in December. Instead, CHT will use ARPA funds initially intended for CityPlace to build 70 affordable units — including 30 condos — at Cambrian Rise, another large housing development in the city.

Cambrian Rise, CityPlace and another CHT project at the former VFW building on South Winooski Avenue could bring 180 affordable housing units online in the coming years — more than what was initially planned for CityPlace. And the developers of CityPlace aren’t using local or federal subsidies to build the affordable housing at their project, Mayor Miro Weinberger said at Thursday’s press conference.

A man standing a podium speaking.
Liam Elder-Connors
Vermont Public
Mayor Miro Weinberger urged the city council on Thursday to sign off on the changes to the CityPlace Burlington project.

“It's worth noting that this almost never happens, that the inclusionary zoning units get built without public subsidy,” Weinberger said. “It's been a major problem with the housing market in Burlington for a long time.”

More from Vermont Public: From Proposal to present: A timeline of Burlington’s CityPlace project

The amended CityPlace project needs approval from the Burlington City Council. Weinberger, at Thursday’s press conference, urged councilors to sign off on the changes during their meeting next week.

“On a big complex project like this, there's likely to be changes,” Weinberger said. “It is my hope that the council will take quick action on this and approve it to resolve one of the last remaining sort of uncertainties about the project, and do the city's part to ensure that this project will move forward at full steam from here.”

Construction of CityPlace began in November 2022 after years of delays. The project’s south building — which, at 10 stories, will be the tallest building in Vermont — is on track to be completed in a year, the press release said. The foundation is poured for the north building and the steel frame of the building will start to go up this summer, Farrington said at Thursday's press conference.

The developers hope to finish the north building and reconnect two city streets by the summer of 2026.

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Liam is Vermont Public’s public safety reporter, focusing on law enforcement, courts and the prison system.
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