Mayor Weinberger, Champlain College, Members of Preservation Burlington Announce Settlement Agreement on Final Appeal of Champlain College Eagles Landing Project
Agreement Includes Design Improvements, Expansion of Public Parking; Multi-Party Stabilization Program Created to Enhance Quality of Life in Burlington's Neighborhoods
(February 26, 2015) -- Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced a mediated settlement agreement among the City, Champlain College, and members of Preservation Burlington, a non-profit neighborhood preservation organization, regarding the Eagles Landing student housing project proposed by the College.
The settlement resolves the final legal issues related to the denial of the project by the Development Review Board on April 3, 2014 and its subsequent appeal by Champlain College. The agreement follows unanimous City Council approval of the draft agreement on Feb. 17, 2015 and clears the way for the 104-unit project to move forward.
The Eagles Landing project will create new purpose-built, well-managed student housing in the downtown and help relieve pressure on the Burlington housing market. As part of the mediated agreement, Champlain College has agreed to lessen the size of the building and incorporate exterior material changes to better fit the neighborhood.
In addition, the College has agreed to work with the City and members of Preservation Burlington to create a "Neighborhood Stabilization Program." The program, one of the 17 strategies outlined in the City's draft Housing Action Plan, calls for developing proactive steps to enhance neighborhood quality of life in the historic neighborhoods surrounding Champlain College and the University of Vermont.
"Today's announcement demonstrates that it is possible to try new approaches to our long-standing student housing and neighborhood challenges," said Mayor Weinberger. "I am pleased that many parties have found a way to come together to significantly improve and support this important project. I also am optimistic that this agreement will spark broader neighborhood quality of life improvements in the years ahead."
"Champlain College has a long-term goal of housing all our students in college managed units or in off-campus facilities that work well with our neighbors," said David Provost, Champlain College Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. "The agreement to move forward with the Eagles Landing student housing project reflects thoughtful input from the community and a design that will work well within the existing neighborhood."
"Preservation Burlington has worked for years to improve the architectural quality of new buildings in Burlington and to protect and enhance the quality of life in our City's historic neighborhoods," said Ron Wanamaker, representing Preservation Burlington. "We are pleased to contribute to a Neighborhood Stabilization Program that will support the development of recommendations for Burlington based on successful neighborhood livability initiatives in other university communities."
"Today's announcement is good news for the City's neighborhoods," said City Councilor Karen Paul (Ward 6). "I am pleased to see a collaborative effort among community partners not only to take steps to address the housing affordability challenges in our City, but also to take a creative new approach toward long-standing quality of life issues."
Eagles Landing Settlement
The agreement clears the way for the conversion of two unsightly and underutilized downtown sites along St. Paul Street - the Brown's Court parking lot and the vacant Eagle's Club - into a vibrant mixed use block of street front retail with housing above. The project will include 104 dwelling units containing about 290 Champlain College students, contributing to the Mayor's goal of building 1,500 new student beds in five years to decrease the number of students living in historic neighborhoods by approximately 50 percent, and also will include retail and outdoor café space on King, St. Paul, and Maple streets.
The parties worked out final design modifications aimed at enhancing the compatibility of the project's design with the scale and character of the surrounding neighborhood. Modifications included significantly more use of brick to blend with surrounding historic buildings and refining the window design and cornice details along the St. Paul Street, King Street, and Brown's Court elevations.
The project also will increase public parking supply by replacing the current 42 spaces at Brown's Court with 65 public parking spaces under the building - an increase of 23 spaces. The agreement clarifies the management of those spaces for public use. The project is expected to generate as much as $400,000 annually in new property taxes.
In a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed by the City, Champlain College, and Preservation Burlington, the partners have agreed to work collaboratively to advance livability issues through the "Neighborhood Project," a strategic plan to be prepared by professional housing, planning, historic preservation, and real estate professionals. According to the MOU, the Neighborhood Project would develop "an overall strategy and toolkit of policies and programs based on national best practices," including
:• Strategic funding plan options
;• A timeline for implementation;
• Review of and recommendations based on successful neighborhood livability initiatives in other university communities like the UniverCity Neighborhood partnership in Iowa City, IA, and the Preserving the Neighborhood initiative in Lancaster, PA; and
• Next steps to implement the recommendations in Burlington. The City of Burlington and Champlain College each have committed $25,000 and Preservation Burlington has committed $5,000 toward this effort. The funders will work equitably and collaboratively to draft a scope of work, select the consultants, and provide input and feedback throughout the process.
Please see the following linked documents:
· Eagles Landing Settlement Agreement, available here
· The Neighborhood Project Memorandum of Understanding, available here
· Eagles Landing Visuals, available here
ABOUT CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE: Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 60 online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 379 Colleges: 2015 Edition. Champlain was named a "Top-Up-and-Coming School" by U.S. News & World Report's America's Best Colleges and is ranked in the top tier of 2014 Regional Colleges in the North. For more information, visit www.champlain.edu.