New expensive neighborhood for Burlington now in the works
BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Cambrian Rise, an expansive new neighborhood and the Queen City’s largest development in decades, is taking shape mostly out of the public eye.
Following the wholesale clearing of trees along North Avenue, construction crews are now building the first of a dozen market-rate and affordable apartment and condo buildings proposed for 27 acres formerly owned by the Catholic Diocese of Burlington, and more recently, Burlington College.
Developer Eric Farrell says he’s on schedule to complete a total of 730 residential units, at Cambrian Rise within six to eight years.
Demand for housing in Chittenden County is expected to remain high for at least that long, Farrell said. Last year, he converted the diocese’s landmark Victorian orphanage into Liberty House — and renters quickly filled its 65 apartments.
From the vantage of Liberty House’s lake-facing roof deck, Farrell surveyed the 27 gently sloping acres that he plans to transform.
“When this is done,” he said, “it’s going to be a consequential piece of economic development.”
Farrell outlined the progress so far:
At the property’s southern edge, just downhill from a conspicuous array of machinery and raw materials, crews from S.D. Ireland have nearly completed the ground floor of a 76-unit apartment building.
That affordable housing project, “Laurentide,” is owned and managed by Champlain Housing Trust . It is scheduled to open in fall 2019, said Chris Donnelly, a spokesman for the trust.
Walkability and easy access to the North Avenue bus line and the bike path, as well as a stock of one-, two-, and three-bedroom dwellings, favor a diverse population of low-income tenants whose rent will not exceed 30 percent of their income, Donnelly said.
The project’s total cost: about $21.6 million.
Closer to North Avenue, on a site currently used as a staging area for the Champlain Housing Trust project, a 70-unit apartment building for elderly tenants is in the works.
Cathedral Square, which owns the site, intends to break ground for “Juniper House,” (named for a conspicuous view of Juniper Island from the property) in August 2019, said Cindy Reid, the nonprofit’s director of development.
Affordable one- and two-bedroom units will be available to qualifying tenants aged 55 and up — and high demand for other Cathedral Square apartments suggests that would-be renters will encounter a waiting list, Reid said.
Cathedral Square intends to secure funding for the project by this winter, she added.
Vermont Works, an investment group that specializes in combining financial return with social impact, announced in June that it intends to develop one of Cambrian Rise’s buildings as Vermont Innovation Commons, a “business accelerator — integrating educational, co-working, and co-living spaces.”
Investors at Vermont Works are drawing up a memorandum of understanding with Farrell to finance construction of two or more additional condo apartment buildings, said the Commons project’s CEO Mark Naud, a South Hero-based attorney and former executive director of the Community Sailing Center on Lake Champlain.
If the project advances, a building at the northern boundary of Cambrian Rise owned and managed by Vermont Works would house services and mentorships to start-up businesses.
More broadly, Cambrian Rise could emerge as an “inclusionary innovation district for the entire Vermont innovation ecosystem,” Naud said: a resource for schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, and hands-on entrepreneurs.
Farrell said in 2019 a 114-unit condo is likely to take shape just west (downhill, toward the lake) of Champlain Housing Trust’s “Laurentide” building.
He still hasn’t decided whether there will be a place for a hotel at the property’s northwest corner. Nor has Farrell committed to (or ruled out) any post-Cambrian Rise projects.
“Someone said that real estate is a disease — and there is no cure,” he said.
Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com