City of Burlington, Vermont

City of Burlington, Vermont

CEDO / City Hall Room 32
802-865-7144 / cedofd@burlingtonvt.gov
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Waterfront TIF District

On January 22, 1996, the City of Burlington created a TIF district known as the "Waterfront TIF District" along the central and northern end of the waterfront.  This district was established to redevelop the Lake Street district and reclaim the post industrial nearby waterfront area focusing on investment in public infrastructure and facilities that support economic development and public access. On June 23, 1997, the city expanded its TIF district with a sliver of property extending from the lakefront to Church Street along Cherry Street to facilitate increasing the housing supply and parking garage additions to help stimulate a market for commercial retail stores and business offices.

The city council and city officials worked together to identify and adhere to requirements associated with establishing the TIF district, including publicly warned meetings to discuss formation and financing of the TIF district and obtained voter approval for anticipated financing.

The purpose of the Waterfront  TIF is to promote economic and public infrastructure development in a portion of Burlington's Waterfront in its Designated Downtown. Here are the main points about the waterfront TIF that all Burlington taxpayers should know:

  1. TIF is designed to have the tax increment revenue fund improvements, not increase taxes.
  2. TIF is a tool in the City's economic development toolbox. It can promote new development that might otherwise be feasible only in locations that do not require significant public infrastructure investment (such as greenfields and suburban areas).
  3. TIF is intended to enhance the Waterfront's attractiveness to potential developers, businesses, tourists, and residents. This, in turn, provides jobs and improves the local economy.
  4. The properties within the Waterfront TIF District have development or redevelopment potential and will all benefit in some capacity from public infrastructure and public facility investments in some capacity.
  5. Development or redevelopment stimulated within the district will provide employment opportunities, improve and broaden the tax base, and enhance the general economic vitality of the Burlington region.  
     

The city used the TIF district to redevelop the Lake Street district and make the waterfront area more accessible and vibrant.  Additionally, the City invested in infrastructure upgrades and parking garage additions to stimulate the market for commercial retail stores and business offices.  The infrastructure improvements to Lake Street, the Westlake Garage, and the Lakeside Parking Garage have encouraged business growth. Private "anchor projects" include Macy's, the new Marriot Hotel, a new office and retail building on Lake Street, and 16 residential condos and 40 residential units of affordable housing also along Lake Street.

The boundaries of the Waterfront TIF district were purposely developed with the City's best interest and the statutory procedures in mind. This district, as shown in this map, is fully within the Designated Downtown, but does not overlap with the Downtown TIF.

The Waterfront TIF District differs from the Downtown TIF District both geographically and legally. The Waterfront TIF District was opened in 1996 under an old State statute. It is governed by some grandfathered provisions that apply to its administration and has its own projects and investments.

Due to the success of the Waterfront TIF district, it is projected to have a surplus at the end of the life of the district. This means that if the City did not use these TIF funds on local infrastructure and public facilities on Burlington's waterfront, the majority of the funds would need to be returned to the State and Burlington would not receive the benefits of new infrastructure and public facilities on Burlington's Waterfront TIF district.  Per Act 54 (2009 session) and Act 80 (2013 session), Burlington's borrowing period for the Waterfront TIF district was extended to December 31, 2019.  Additionally, in 2016 the legislature authorized a narrow extension of the borrowing period for just the Burlington Town Center properties only to June 30, 2021.  The city’s ability to use increment to pay debt goes through 2025 with an extension to use the increment from the Burlington Town Center properties only through 2035.    

Follow this link to view a map of the Waterfront TIF district.

 

Further Questions, Comments, Concerns

For more information on these and other issues, please contact one of the people listed below.

  • For general questions about Burlington's Downtown TIF District, please contact CEDO's Senior Project and Policy Specialist, Kirsten Merriman Shapiro (KMerriman@burlingtonvt.gov) 802-865-7284
  • For legal concerns, please contact Richard Haesler at the Burlington City Attorney's Office at rhaesler@burlingtonvt.gov or 802-865-7567.