Thursday July 12, 2018
The long-anticipated Market Street Reconstruction project officially kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, June 28. South Burlington hosted the event, marking the beginning of a decades-long vision for a new City Center. Celebrating with city staff and councilors were Secretary of State and former South Burlington City Council Chair Jim Condos, Tim McKenzie, South Burlington Realty Company; Jeff Munger, Transportation Policy Advisor (Office of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders), members of Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, representatives of the GBIC and Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, Champlain Housing Trust, members of the development community, and state congressional guests.
Market Street, which connects from Dorset Street to Hinesburg Road, will soon be transformed into a space designed to accommodate all modes of transportation. An ADA-compliant, multi-use path will be available to pedestrians and cyclists on both sides of the street, along with amenities such as on-street parking, ample LED street lighting, and landscaping. There will also be traffic calming and safety features in place.
A stormwater pond west of Potash Brook will be accessible to the community and serve as both as a water quality treatment and retention area as well as an attractive recreation space with paths, landscaping, and a public art installation commissioned by the city from Tyler Vendituoli. The pond will eventually be part of the entrance to City Center Park, which is now nearing completion
Market Street’s new look will be the product of public feedback.
Development is already budding on Market Street with Allard Square senior housing opening this fall, townhomes at the Hinesburg Road end constructed in 2016, permitting of a 60-unit apartment project and a townhome development, and the possibility of a new 50,000 sq. ft. city center/library/senior center civic building which will be on the November ballot. For efficiency, the city notes that utilities have been designed for installation in a single dig to accommodate future connections to the edge of the right of way line.
“The completion of Market Street will serve as a strong stimulus to the private sector to build out City Center, a high density, mixed use urban downtown incorporating public amenities to potentially include a library, city hall, and senior center,” shared City Council Chair Helen Riehle. “Our hope is that many hundreds of units of housing will be built in City Center making use of public investments and infrastructure, thereby taking pressure off the need to build in more remote, rural areas of our community.”
VHB, Inc. is leading the project design, SE Group is the lead landscape architecture firm on the team, and Whole Systems Design, LLC is charged with designing and developing human habitats.
Funding and Traffic
The project is being funded by a variety of sources. In 2004, the city received the first of two federal grants with the help of Senator Jim Jeffords, which set into motion a collaboration with VTrans to complete all federal, state, and local requirements to develop the design and obtain permits, right-of-way access, and clearances to construct the project. The two federal earmarks account for 5.5 million dollars.
On November 8, 2016, South Burlington voters approved authorization to obtain a municipal bond to fund the project with TIF District financing (Tax Increment Financing), a tool offered by the state to stimulate economic development by capturing the tax revenue on new development in a district. TIF does not add to resident taxes or fees; instead, it allows the city to keep some of the revenues that would otherwise go into the state’s Education Fund. Funds generated by the TIF District Bond as well as roadway impact fees amount to 4.4 million dollars.
“Basically, all the funding for this was approved back with the bond vote for Market Street and City Center Park and will largely be covered by the Federal Grant, impact fees, and the TIF,” confirmed Tom Hubbard, South Burlington’s Deputy City Manager. “We’re excited to be at this point where construction is beginning, and so look forward to the new streetscape and downtown feel this will create!”
Work will begin near the middle of the connection, and the road will be shut down so there is no thru access; there will still be access to businesses and property owners. Scheduling for road closures on the east and west locations have not yet been determined but will be shared with the public when it becomes available, according to South Burlington Public Works Director/City Engineer Justin Rabidoux.
“This project has been a long time coming, and it’s exciting that it is finally coming to fruition," said Secretary of State Jim Condos to The Other Paper. Condos once served as a council chair and was involved in early discussions of Market Street's transformation. "This is about more than a simple reconstruction, it is an investment in the future and vibrancy of South Burlington.”
“An enormous number of people have been working hard to make this day happen,” Riehle said. “…. This is a truly great day for South Burlington and for our region.”
Construction is scheduled to conclude in the fall of 2019.
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent