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Burlington Seeks Proposals For Hotel Development At Airport

A 2009 file photo of the Burlington International Airport with a plane landed in front of the building.
Toby Talbot
Associated Press File
The City of Burlington issued a formal request for proposals Thursday seeking input from developers on plans for a hotel at the state's largest airport.

A high-end hotel could soon be coming to Burlington International Airport. The City of Burlington has asked prospective developers to submit proposals for what could be a 120-room hotel on airport grounds. Officials envision a unique destination for the region’s jet set.

Gene Richards, director of aviation at Burlington International Airport, oversees a facility that has seen dramatic expansion over the past 15 years. He now has his eyes set on its latest possible venture.

“So what we’re doing is we’re looking at the possibilities of anybody that may have interest in setting up a hotel at the airport,” Richards says.

The City of Burlington issued a formal request for developers to submit proposals for a hotel on August 27. The plan is still in its infancy, but the airport has already designated two possible sites for the structure, including on top of the south end of the existing parking garage.

That plan, Richards says, “would give you just an absolutely awesome view of the mountains, of Mt. Mansfield and Camel’s Hump, and the airfield, and probably extremely unique, like no other airport has.”

Richards says city taxpayers won’t be asked to finance what he says would no doubt be an “expensive endeavor.” But the municipality, as well as the commission that oversees the airport, will be heavily involved in a commercial venture on publicly owned infrastructure.

He says any development proposal would need clearance from the Burlington City Council, as well as the city’s finance board.

“We would be looking for the hotel investor to come in and to fully build it out, and how the airport would benefit is adding an amenity to the flying public,” Richards says.

Richards says the airport would also benefit from rental or lease income the hotel owner would pay for use of the space. Richards says he’s already spoken with a few developers, including the owners of Hotel Vermont. He says the public has expressed interest in lodging options on airport grounds. And he says the city is looking for something that would set it apart from other major metropolitan airports.

“You know many of the other hotels that are at airports, you know they’re hotels at airports,” he says. “And I think this will be a unique and special one. So I think just like many of the other things we have done here to make Burlington special, I think this would just enhance that experience that people would have.”

That experience might include a top-floor restaurant, with sweeping vistas of surrounding cities and mountains. And he says the facility would likely cater to higher-end travelers willing to pay a price for the convenience.

“So I think the price point might be a bit higher than a local hotel,” Richards says.

"If we were lucky enough to get somebody with interest, I am thinking that somewhere in the late 2017 we could probably have something up." - Gene Richards, director of aviation at Burlington International Airport

A hotel would require new permits, but Richards says the airport property isn't precluded from adding a hotel under local planning regulations.

If all goes well, Richards says it won’t be long before visitors have a new lodging option to choose from.

“If we were lucky enough to get somebody with interest, I am thinking that somewhere in the late 2017 we could probably have something up,” Richards says.

Developers have until Oct. 15 to respond to the city’s request for hotel proposals.

The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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