Burlington Sues Downtown Mall Developers Over Stalled Project
The city of Burlington is suing the developers of a long-stalled mall revitalization project in the heart of downtown.
The city alleges BTC Mall Associates, the developers, broke repeated promises to get the project built and make public improvements that are part of the redevelopment plan.
Mayor Miro Weinberger said during a press conference on Thursday that the city is demanding the developers start the public improvements, like reconnecting two streets, and cover the costs. The city, under the orginal agreement, was going to reimburse the developers.
“Our patience is gone now,” Weinberger said. “We’re going to do everything we can to hold them to the promises they made.”
"Our patience is gone now. We're going to do everything we can to hold them to the promises they made. — Miro Weinberger, Mayor of Burlington
The city’s lawsuit against BTC is the latest chapter for the beleaguered CityPlace project, which has been stalled for more than two years and left a massive hole in the heart of Burlington’s downtown. During that time, construction never restarted, despite repeated assurances from developers that the project would soon be underway.
This summer, Don Sinex, the original developer, regained control of the project when his partners in the venture, Brookfield Properties, decided to pull out of the project — after repeatedly saying they’d see the project through.
But the city didn’t sue until this week, spurred by a letter sent by Sinex declaring that that he was terminating the development agreement between his company and the city.
Sinex, in an email to VPR, said the city’s lawsuit was “without merit” because he had ended the development agreement.
“BTC Mall Associates will vigorously defend itself and ultimately prove that the development agreement has been terminated and is therefore null and void and that the action taken by the City will therefore be dismissed by the court,” Sinex wrote in the email.
"BTC Mall Associates will vigorously defend itself and ultimately prove that the development agreement has been terminated and is therefore null and void and that the action taken by the City will therefore be dismissed by the court." — Don Sinex, developer
In court filings, the city argued that Sinex can’t unilaterally end the development agreement. Tim Sampson, an attorney with the city’s outside legal counsel Downs Rachlin Marten, said Sinex’s attempt to end the agreement signals he has no intention of following it.
“The actions the city has asked us to take here are meant to fulfill the obligations of that development agreement,” Sampson said, “which is to make sure this project does move forward to completion, that the public improvements are built and the pit is restored to something viable.”
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