A May 2023 Update from Jessie Baker, City Manager
Hello South Burlington,
As I sit here at City Hall, I can hear construction happening next door on Market Street. Fascinating earth movers and excavators and many many of our hardworking neighbors are laboring each day to realize the community’s vision for our new Downtown. I want to take a moment to share some details on what is happening here in City Center.
Permitting and Construction
Construction is underway at 224 Market Street, 268 Market Street, and 339 Garden Street. These three new buildings will fill the northeast block between City Hall and Garden Street. These new properties will include 161 new homes for our neighbors and 22,675 square feet of first floor commercial space. This development includes new plaza space and a new 21-foot wide sidewalk that will enable future commercial space to activate the sidewalk. This first-story commercial space – with regularly-spaced doors along Market Street – is part of the Form Based Code Zoning that was put into place to create a designated heart of the downtown.
Construction is also underway at 112 Garden Street. This is the building you see under construction as you turn off Dorset Street toward Healthy Living and Trader Joe’s. This property will include 121 new homes as well as an 1,800 square foot café and a 5,000 square foot day care center with associated outdoor play space. An interesting note about this building – there will be balconies for many of the new homes!
Additionally, development of the block on the southwest side of Market Street is under review by our Planning & Zoning Department. This is in anticipation of permits being submitted for an additional three mixed use buildings containing 213 new homes and 27,000 square feet of first floor commercial space sitting directly opposite the commercial space under construction now.
Each of these properties are developed to the Form Based Zoning Code standards that the community, Planning Commission, and Council envisioned in the last decade.
Let's take a moment and talk about the commercial space. Upon full buildout the blocks of Market Street between City Hall and Garden Street and Garden Street between Market and Dorset Street will include over 50,000 square feet of new first floor commercial space designed with multiple entrances to encourage smaller and mid-sized businesses. These new businesses will add exciting visitors and vibrancy to our Downtown. And we are looking for those partners! Do you or someone you know have a business you would like to locate Downtown? Please be in touch with Ken Braverman at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss opportunities. It is our business community and our neighbors that can help us realize our goals for a vibrant City Center and add to the extensive commercial space already Downtown!
The current green space planned for City Center includes Goose Park, City Center Park, and the 2023 voter-approved Boardwalk that will connect these two open spaces. Together, these spaces provide 9.4 acres of green space within feet of Market Street.
Transportation, Walkability, and Bikeability
In addition to the Boardwalk, on Town Meeting Day 2023 the voters approved funding for three other projects that will help sew City Center together. Those include completing Garden Street from Dorset Street to Williston Road, including re-aligning the white-street intersection; building a shared use path along the South side of Williston Road; and matching Federal funds to construct a walk/bike bridge over I-89 south of Exit 14. Together, these investments will create a truly walkable and bikeable downtown.
Investors and Taxation
Two Vermont legacy organizations, the University of Vermont and the UVM Health Network, have invested millions of dollars to support the creation of housing in City Center. In my conversations with their leaders, they recognize our growing Downtown as an ideal location for their staff and graduate students to live. They are excited about the amenities and the ability for their professionals to walk and bike to work. They are optimistic this investment will help meet both our shared housing and climate resiliency goals. It's important to note that, while they are significant investors, the developers will maintain ownership of all of these buildings under construction and in permitting. These buildings will be assessed at full market value and will pay their full and fair share of taxes.
There is a lot going on down here. Some of it is complicated and building planning, design, permitting and construction takes a long time. I'm excited to see it all come to fruition and I'd welcome your thoughts and ideas as we move forward! As always, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or at (802) 846-4107.
Clean Audit for the TIF District issued by the Vermont State Auditor's Office - May 24, 2023
The Vermont State Auditor's Office has issued their statutorily required 10-year audit of the South Burlington City Center Tax Increment Financing District. The findings were that the City has managed the project financials appropriately. Read the audit findings and the City's agreement and acceptance of the findings here. The Auditor, furthermore, stated "The City’s compliance with TIF district requirements is due to processes implemented by the City including close communication and cooperation between program management and finance management teams, consistent project oversight practices, and procedures that ensure completeness of property records and accuracy of the tax increment calculation".
Passed! March 7, 2023 Ballot - Article IV: CITY CENTER TIF BOND VOTE
The improvements to be constructed with the bond proceeds are City Center Park Phase II, the East-West Crossing (walk bike bridge over I-89), the Williston Road Streetscape, and Garden Street (Williston Road intersections). The Public Information Notice provides information on Article IV, the projects to be funded, TIF District Financing, related costs, TIF Increment, the proposed debt, project outcomes and a financial model.
PASSED: ARTICLE IV
CITY CENTER TAX INCREMENT FINANCING DISTRICT BOND
Shall general obligation bonds or notes of the City of South Burlington be issued, the full faith and credit of the City pledged, direct payments of TIF increment be made, or any combination thereof, in an aggregate principal amount not to exceed, after taking into account state or federal grants-in-aid and other funds currently available to the City, Fifteen Million Eighty-Six Thousand Four Hundred Thirty and 00/100 Dollars ($15,086,430) to fund public infrastructure or capital improvements and related costs of projects in or having a nexus to the City Center Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, specifically:
(a) City Center Park (boardwalk connection): being the construction of new paved pathways and an elevated boardwalk between Barrett Street, Market Street and Garden Street and related amenities;
(b) Garden Street (Williston Road intersection realignment and intersection improvements): being realignment of the Williston Road-White Street-Midas Drive intersection and improvements to the Hinesburg Road-Patchen Road-Williston Road intersection, and related transportation and utility upgrades;
(c) Williston Road Streetscape: being the installation of a shared-use path on the south side of Williston Road between Dorset Street and Midas Drive and related utility and transportation upgrades; and
(d) East-West Crossing: being a walk-bike bridge over I-89 at Exit 14,
recognizing that tax increment revenue from taxable properties within the TIF District shall be pledged to and appropriated for payment of TIF District debt? To date, City voters have approved TIF District debt totaling $29,402,000, of which $14,430,062 has been or is eligible to be repaid in whole or in part using TIF District incremental revenue.
City Center Initiative
The vision for City Center is to effectively blend existing neighborhoods, Dorset Street and Williston Road commercial streets, natural areas, and undeveloped properties into the South Burlington downtown. City Center increases connectivity with new walkable and bikable cross streets; a mix of housing, retail, and employment; and most importantly, by creating places for community. Combined, these investments provide opportunities for housing and employment in an area well served by public transit and existing public utilities - surrounded by and linked to existing neighborhoods.
March 2, 2021 Ballot - Article III - Garden Street - PASSED!
The specific improvements to be constructed with the bond proceeds are Garden Street (at Dorset Street and the connector to Midas Drive) as well as related costs. Article III was on the March 2, 2021 ballot.
The Public Information Notice (online) provided information on Article III, the portion of the Garden Street project to be funded, TIF District Financing, related costs, TIF Increment, the proposed debt, project outcomes and a financial model. These FAQs answer the questions that pop into our heads regarding the article.
ARTICLE III - PASSED
Shall the City Council be authorized to pledge the credit of the City and to borrow up to Four Million Two Thousand Five Hundred Fifty Dollars ($4,002,550) in order to build Vermont Economic Progress Council-approved City Center Tax Increment Financing District (TIF District) public infrastructure and capital improvements, specifically: engineering and construction of the Garden Street Project between Dorset Street and Williston Road and the upgrade of intersections at White Street/Midas Drive and Hinesburg Road/Patchen Road together with associated site work and project costs, and to pay related costs, specifically, approval for reimbursement of TIF eligible related costs incurred in the establishment, implementation and administration of the TIF District? To date, the cumulative amount of voter approved City Center TIF debt is $25,400,000.
The vote on the Article provided voter authorization for funding to complete segments A and C shown below (B will be completed by the private sector, D will be fully funded in a future phase):
How does Tax Increment Financing (TIF) work?
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) captures future new tax income from new private development (growth that doesn't exist today) around public projects (amenities), that would otherwise go to the State Education Fund. This new revenue collected over 20 years may be invested in public infrastructure and facilities right here in South Burlington's City Center. In 2017, the City began to collect TIF revenue that is used on TIF projects.
75% of revenue from the new value may be used finance TIF public projects. 25% of the revenue from the new value goes to the City General Fund and the State Education Fund.
The South Burlington Public Library and City Hall opened to the Public on July 23, 2021. This project broke ground on Market Street in 2019, and includes a new Library, Senior Center, Clerk’s Office, Auditorium and City Hall. This new community anchor, the City's first public library building and first dedicated senior center, is being built to serve the public for 100 years as a hub of democracy and learning. This building has flexible spaces to support community by providing a variety of spaces to gather, socialize, and engage in educational and other activities.
Public projects of this nature have been part of the planning for South Burlington’s City Center for decades.
The primary funding was 1) reserve funds that are being accumulated every year as part of the general fund and built into today's tax rate, and 2) Tax Increment Financing revenues provided by the State. Funds are also provided through capital funds from the Library Board of Trustees and an Electric Vehicle charging station grant from State. The result is that no additional property taxes were required from South Burlington residents to pay for the debt on this project. The debt required for this project was approved by the voters in November of 2018. Learn more..
2016 Vote Authorization
This first public vote in 2016 on City Center Tax Increment Financing (TIF) in City Center funded two projects:
- the reconstruction of Market Street,
- the development of City Center Park Phase I
Completed: Reconstruction of Market Street
This project was completed in November of 2019. It rebuilt Market Street—from Dorset Street to Hinesburg Road—as a downtown main street. Supporting pedestrian, bike, and vehicular traffic, all of the stormwater is collected into stormwater ponds west and east of Tributary 3 to the Potash Brook. This street is designed to feel comfortable for all users, supporting a high volume at low speeds. Crosswalks are signed and lighted and the western stormwater pond complex is designed as a gateway to City Center Park (Phase II) with a future bicycle path connection to City Center Park Phase I, now accessed off of Barrett Street.
Completed: City Center Park (Phase I)
This project, completed in 2018, is a publicly accessible passive recreation space with trails, marked entrances, seating, discoverable mysteries, and sufficient infrastructure to allow for the enjoyment and protection of tributaries to the Potash Brook and associated wetlands and buffers. This phase included construction of a trail network—connecting Iby Street to Barrett Street—while maintaining important natural features and providing recreational opportunities. Years of planning have gone into the design for City Center Park, with extensive engagement and input.
The 7.65 acre wooded parcel of land is tucked into the Iby/Barrett Street neighborhood and is accessible from both streets.